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Christie's Auction: Summer's Hottest Artists at Refreshing Prices

Christie's is showcasing a curated selection of artworks for sale this summer. Here are a few of our favorites.

Esther Mahlangu (b. 1935), NDEBELE MURAL ABSTRACT (UMGWALO), 2015. Acrylic on canvas. 16½ x 23¼ in (42 x 59 cm). Estimate: $4,000-6,000. Offered in First Open from 2-17 July 2024 at Christie’s New York.

Esther Mahlangu’s large-scale paintings are at once a representation of her heritage and the beginning of a conversation with her audience. Born in South Africa in 1935, she belongs to the South Ndebele people. Ndebele house painting, a cultural tradition in which homes are adorned with colorful murals, is typically performed by women. Mahlangu was taught the form by her mother and grandmother.

Her works reflect this deep-rooted practice, incorporating the geometric patterns and vibrant hues found on Ndebele houses in various media. In NDEBELE MURAL ABSTRACT (UMGWALO), she uses acrylic on canvas, but she has set her brush to a BMW 525i as part of the brand’s Art Cars series. Her work was recently included in Giants: Art from the Dean Collection of Swizz Beatz and Alicia Keys at the Brooklyn Museum and is currently on view at the central pavilion of the Venice Biennale.

Murjoni Merriweather (b. 1996), N U R A, 2021. Ceramic, glitter, found earrings and synthetic hair. 17½ x 6 x 8 in (43.8 x 15.2 x 20.3 cm). Estimate: $4,000-6,000. Offered in The Rosa de la Cruz Collection Online Sale from 2-18 July at Christie’s New York

Murjoni Merriweather (b. 1996), J A S M I N E, 2021. Ceramic, dyed hand braided synthetic hair and metal. 22 x 12 x 12 in (55.9 x 30.5 x 30.5 cm). Estimate: $4,000-6,000. Offered in The Rosa de la Cruz Collection Online Sale from 2-18 July at Christie’s New York

The Baltimore-based ceramicist Murjoni Merriweather creates life-size sculptures of Black people and their experiences. Her striking works oppose European beauty standards and often employ contrasting textures, such as in the present J A S M I N E, where braided synthetic hair and metal earrings cover a clay base. She made her auction debut at Christie’s this past May.

Her recent appearance in the exhibition Shattered Glass at Los Angeles’ Jeffrey Deitch Gallery featured busts made of black clay adorned with gold earrings, necklaces and grills. As she sparks conversations on how acts of self-love — like wearing jewellery — have been weaponised as negative stereotypes, she ultimately wants her work ‘to be relatable,’ as she said in an interview with the exhibition’s curator Antoine J. Girard. ‘If we see it as relatable, then we see ourselves as art...’ The intersection of art and activism is a key part of how her work is to be seen, and by using physical materials that speak to aspects of Black life, she makes sure that relationship is on the surface of her sculptures.

3. Loriel Beltrán, FSLV $10,000-15,000

Loriel Beltrán (b. 1985), FSLV, 2018-2020. Latex paint on panel. 69¾ x 44⅛ in (177.2 x 112 cm). Estimate: $10,000-15,000. Offered in The Rosa de la Cruz Collection Online Sale from 2-18 July at Christie’s New York

Born in Caracas, Venezuela and based in Miami, Loriel Beltrán makes paintings which blend art traditions across the Americas with an eye to abstraction, and physicality. With visual inspirations ranging from Lynda Benglis’s pours and Mark Rothko’s explorations of colour to Cinetismo and Concrete art, his work is a harmony of art traditions from across the Americas.

Built by letting acrylic paint dry in intricate moulds, the surface of Beltrán’s paintings reflect the demanding nature of his process. He was recently picked up by Lehmann Maupin, and had solo shows at their New York and Seoul locations in 2023, as well as one in their London gallery which just concluded this June.

Tauba Auerbach (b. 1981), I Doubt It/But I Do It, 2008. Gouache and graphite on black paper. 20 x 16 in (50.8 x 40.6 cm). Estimate: $15,000-20,000. Offered in First Open from 2-17 July 2024 at Christie’s New York.

Tauba Auerbach’s oeuvre is united by a continued curiosity about where logic breaks down and a willingness to test boundaries across media in a scientific, even mathematical, way.

Auerbach’s Fold paintings brought widespread acclaim in 2009, when they were exhibited at MoMA PS1 followed by the 2010 Whitney Biennial, and other series based in language, glass, musical instruments, and more have kept Auerbach at the forefront of radical art practice. With a sprawling cross-media exhibition at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art in 2022, they show no sign of letting up, continuing to reinvent the frontier of contemporary art.

5. Josh Kline, 99% Recyclable $15,000–20,000

Josh Kline (b. 1979), 99% Recyclable, 2016. Polyethylene terephthalate, granny cart, polyethylene bags, rubber, Plexiglas, LEDs and power source. 39 x 23 x 32½ in (99 x 58.4 x 82.6 cm). Estimate $15,000-20,000. Offered in First Open from 2-17 July 2024 at Christie’s New York.

Josh Kline belongs to a broad group of artists whose central focus is the impact of technology on society. It’s a wide net to cast, but he approaches it with knowledge and care, as in the installations that made his name, like Skittles, which was displayed along the High Line in New York in 2014, and Freedom at the New Museum Triennial in 2015.

Kline had his first United States museum survey, with Project for a New American Century at the Whitney Museum of American Art in 2023. It underscored his deft engagement with a variety of technologies and practices — including data collection, image manipulation, propaganda, advertising and substances designed to boost productivity — which he consciously turns against themselves. He is a rare breed of artist capable of pointed critiques of society and culture, while maintaining a sense of humour, often a dark one.

Cosima von Bonin (b. 1962), Decoy (Der Krake #3), 2007. Stuffed fabric and glass on a wood base. Octopus: 24 x 112 x 114 in (61 x 284.5 x 289.6 cm); overall: 26 x 115 x 117 in (66 x 291.2 x 297.2 cm). Estimate: $20,000-30,000. Offered in The Rosa de la Cruz Collection Online Sale from 2-18 July at Christie’s New York

As an artist whose primary inspiration comes from personal experiences of the everyday, Cosima von Bonin employs a colourful, happy visual language cut through with unsettling and dark undertones. She assembles readymades, appropriates imagery and sews quilts, aligning herself with vanguard art practices of the past as she portrays and subverts current societal conventions.

She just concluded her exhibition Feelings at the Shirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt in June, and has consistently exhibited internationally for more than two decades.

7. Vojtěch Kovařík, Ceramist $50,000–70,000

Vojtěch Kovařík (b. 1993), Ceramist, 2020. Acrylic on canvas. 39½ x 27¾ in (100 x 70 cm). Estimate: $50,000-70,000. Offered in First Open from 2-17 July 2024 at Christie’s New York.

In Vojtěch Kovařík's paintings, the distinction between history and myth is left deliberately unclear. Taking style cues from muralists like Diego Rivera and the socialist realists of communist Czechoslovakia, he flattens, stretches and tightly fits his subjects within the bounds of his canvasses. The figures are monumental, godlike, but they wear their emotions in a way heroes rarely do.

Many of his works present deified characters like Odysseus, Aphrodite and

Hercules gazing enigmatically outside of the painting. The artist takes these figures — like the ceramicist holding an amphora in the present Ceramist — and removes them from their history, their myth. Through simply rendered images and exaggerated colour and proportion, Kovařík is able to rehumanise gods, bringing their struggles and experiences into the present tense.

Vaughn Spann (b. 1992), A House on Fire (Marked Man), 2023. polymer paint and mixed media on wood panel. 84 x 84 in (213.4 x 213.4 cm). Estimate $50,000-70,000. Offered in The Rosa de la Cruz Collection Online Sale from 2-18 July at Christie’s New York

Florida-born and Connecticut-based Vaughn Spann walks the line between figuration and abstraction. His work has been steadily on the rise for the past few years, especially pieces from his ‘X’ series. A Miami-born artist, his work is emblematic of Rosa de la Cruz’s collection, which continues this Summer after its success this past Spring.

A House on Fire (Marked Man) belongs to Spann’s ‘Marked Man’ series, all of which bear the archetypal ‘X’ symbol. They relate to Spann’s personal experience of being stopped by the police. To him it’s an interpretive symbol with many meanings, including being the image of stop-and-frisk with one’s hands and legs spread, and another the simple ‘X marks the spot’.

9. Ali Banisadr, Alchemy $60,000–80,000

Ali Banisadr (b. 1976), Alchemy, 2015. Oil and linen. 32 x 26 in (81.3 x 66 cm). Estimate $60,000-80,000. Offered in First Open from 2-17 July 2024 at Christie’s New York.

Ali Banisadr was only four years old when the Iran-Iraq War began in 1980. His childhood was coloured by the horror and sensory overload of living in wartime Tehran. His work focusses on themes of war but often blur reality and dream, and his monumental visions have been compared to Heironymous Bosch, albeit with bolder, more vivid colours and an underlying darkness.

The comparison stems both from the sheer chaos of his compositions and from the way they reward close looking. Hidden beneath visual overwhelm, we find moments of hope. Even in his more abstract works, such as Alchemy, there is a quiet interplay between dark and light.

ML Staff. Content/image courtesy of Christies. Click here for the latest Christies auctions


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