Anna Weyant - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale New York Wednesday, May 17, 2023 | Phillips

Create your first list.

Select an existing list or create a new list to share and manage lots you follow.

  • Anna Weyant’s Unconditional Love, 2021, presents two young women, possibly sisters, sitting in a rigid, photography studio-style portrait. Their pose seems ordinary, but there’s something slightly off about them: the brunette seems to be sitting on the blonde’s knee—the curve of the latter’s black striped tights just visible under the brunette’s legs—yet the angle is too high and long to be anatomically proportionate. The blonde’s head tilts oddly away from her companion, too. Following the line of the brunette’s arm we see that she’s sticking her finger in the blonde’s ear. This gesture, the wet willy, is the ultimate sibling prank. While Weyant herself has a brother, not a sister, the general sense of sibling rivalry—the smugness of the brunette’s placid expression, contrasted with that of the exasperated blonde—shines through in Unconditional Love.

    “A little creepiness can save a painting sometimes.”
    —Anna Weyant
    Weyant’s uncanny siblings find their features in a rich art history of figure painting. The extended leg of the blonde recalls a Mannerist disregard for anatomical proportion in pursuit of emotional heft (Parmigianino’s Madonna with the Long Neck, c. 1535-1540, Uffizi, Florence, being one such example). Frans Hals, too, is a strong referent; the flushed, round cheeks of Weyant’s brunette seems straight out of one of his jovial portraits. Weyant purposefully engages the muted color palettes of Dutch painters like Hals; she prefers not to be distracted by color, rather, she draws the viewer’s focus towards her figures, and the situations she’s placed them in.


    [Left] Frans Hals, Catharina Hooft with her Nurse, 1620. Gemäldegalerie, Berlin. Image: © Fine Art Images / Bridgeman Images
    [Right] John Currin, Thanksgiving, 2003. Tate, London. Image: © Tate, London / Art Resource, NY, Artwork: © John Currin 

    One of Weyant’s greatest influences, however, is contemporary artist John Currin. His figures’ features, always just slightly off, lend a surreal edge to their everyday settings. Weyant strikes a similar emotional tone with Unconditional Love; her smooth, highly-finished surfaces give the sense that “there’s something in the water,” as she says. “The sinister can often be masked by beauty or even tranquility.”i


    The vague sense of secret or hidden meaning in Unconditional Love reminds one of the European tradition of courtly portraits, particularly those of noble sisters. In Pieter van der Faes’ Mary Capel, Later Duchess of Beaufort, and her Sister Elizabeth, Countess of Carnarvon, c. 1650, the two sisters are depicted with austere, even dour expressions, and stiffly formal posture. However, each holds a small object that hints towards their lives outside the picture frame. Mary, at left, holds a wreath of leaves, signaling her interest in botanical research, while Elizabeth holds a painting of a flower she made herself.ii These attributes are the custom touch to this otherwise standard courtly portrait; without them, the sisters are hard to recognize as individuals. Through the selection of uncanny details in Unconditional Love, namely, the brunette’s finger in the blonde’s ear, Weyant leaves a similar mark of originality.


    Pieter van der Faes, Mary Capel, Later Duchess of Beaufort and her Sister Elizabeth, Countess of Carnarvon, c. 1650. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. Image: © Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Bequest of Jacob Ruppert, 1939, 39.65.3

    Weyant has often cited her childhood as the source of inspiration for her work; she loves the “traumatic, dramatic, devastating and hilarious” experience of being a teenager.iii As a teen, having your sibling stick their wet finger in your ear—and having that moment photographed—could be absolutely devastating. Weyant mines this emotional richness in the subtle yet precise expressions of her figures, and their postural interconnectedness. After all, the brunette couldn’t sit without the support of the blonde’s knee, and the blonde’s expression wouldn’t make any sense without her sister’s finger. However tiresome, their love is unconditional.



    i Anna Weyant, quoted in Bill Powers, “The Credible Image: An Interview of Anna Weyant on the Occasion of her Solo Exhibition Loose Screw,” Autre, Mar. 5, 2021, online.

    ii “Mary Capel, Later Duchess of Beaufort, and her Sister Elizabeth, Countess of Carnarvon,” The Met, accessed Apr. 2023, online.

    iii Weyant, quoted in Sasha Bogojev, “Anna Weyant: Welcome to the Dollhouse,” Juxtapoz, 2020, online.

    • Provenance

      Blum & Poe, Los Angeles
      Acquired from the above by the present owner

    • Exhibited

      Los Angeles, Blum & Poe, Loose Screw, March 23–May 1, 2021

    • Literature

      Bill Powers, “The Credible Image: An Interview of Anna Weyant on the Ocassion of her Solo Exhibition Loose Screw,” Autre Magazine, March 5, 2021, online (illustrated)
      Paul Laster, “Anna Weyant Embraces Dark Humor Through Realist Painting,” Art & Object, April 16, 2021, online (Blum & Poe, Los Angeles, 2021, installation view illustrated)
      Noor Brara, “Artist Anna Weyant Paints the Indignities of Being a Young Woman- and Collectors of All Ages Can’t Get Enough,” Artnet, September 16, 2021, online (illustrated)
      "27-Year-Old Painter Anna Weyant Makes History at Gagosian Gallery," DDW, May 7, 2022, online (illustrated)
      Raquel Fernández Sobrín, “Anna Weyant’s Artistic World,” Suit Magazine, July 30, 2022, online (illustrated)


Unconditional Love

signed and dated "Anna Weyant 2021 ♥" on the reverse
oil on canvas
71 7/8 x 48 in. (182.6 x 121.9 cm)
Painted in 2021.

Full Cataloguing

$400,000 - 600,000 

Sold for $609,600

Contact Specialist

Carolyn Mayer
Associate Specialist, Head of Evening Sale, New York
+1 212 940 1206

20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale

New York Auction 17 May 2023