Anna Weyant - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale London Thursday, June 30, 2022 | Phillips

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  • 'I think there are features that I’m attracted to in a painting. I like a really round figure, something not bulbous, but round.' —Anna WeyantFiltering oblique references to the Freudian uncanny and the Surreal through a rich painterly vernacular of muted tones, smooth, softened edges and intense luminosity borrowed from Dutch Old Master paintings, Anna Weyant’s irreverent and darkly humorous paintings delight in their ability to disturb. Focused primarily on a cast of young yet knowing female characters set in dark, denuded spaces, Weyant’s paintings dramatise something of the passage of girlhood and its strangeness. Amplifying the tension in these static dramas, Weyant’s dramatic chiaroscuro and careful attention to contour and form nods to Caravaggio in its intense luminosity, producing highly distinctive paintings cloaked in ‘subdued liquid chartreuse, embellished with unexpected twists.’i

     

    Michelangelo Merisi  de Caravaggio, Arciconfraternita di Sant'Anna de Parafrenieri (Madonna and Child with St Anne), 1606, Galleria Borghese, Rome. Image: akg-images
    Michelangelo Merisi  de Caravaggio, Arciconfraternita di Sant'Anna de Parafrenieri (Madonna and Child with St Anne), 1606, Galleria Borghese, Rome. Image: akg-images

     

    Welcome to the Dollhouse

     

    The subject of growing critical attention since her 2019 debut solo exhibition Welcome to the Dollhouse with taste-maker gallery 56 Henry in New York, Weyant has recently joined the ranks of Gagosian, the youngest artist to be internationally represented by the gallery. Taking its title from Todd Solondz’s 1995 film of teenage angst and ritual humiliation, Welcome to the Dollhouse used the children’s toy as a device to explore what Weyant has described as the ‘low-stakes trauma’ of girlhood, her paintings like compartmentalised vignettes staged using her cast of doll-like characters serving as actors and avatars in her tragicomic narratives. Executed in the same year as this breakthrough exhibition, Bath Time shares in these themes, developing the rich, dark palette offset by luminous porcelain tones that have become associated with the Canadian artist’s precisely rendered scenes of narrative disquiet.

     

    Like Paula Rego, who mines a similarly rich vein of adolescent uncertainty, Weyant makes use of stage-set dolls in preparing her compositions, recorded here in the static pose, smooth porcelain skin, and the exaggerated articulation of the child’s limbs in Bath Time. This distinctive quality introduces a note of strangeness to the figure, moving the painting from Old Master luxuriance into more overtly surreal territory, touching as it does on Sigmund Freud’s notion of the doll as an uncanny double of the child itself. An ambiguous object, the doll combines the child’s ambivalent fears and desires, continuing to function as a repository of lost innocence long after the child has grown out of it.

     

    Drawing on John Currin’s polished finish and taste for the macabre, the alabaster smoothness and exaggerated expressions of Weyant’s characters position them on the ‘knife edge between sweet and sour, beautiful and foreboding’, evoking the strange world of Edmund Gorey and the enigmatic qualities of Dorothea Tanning’s uneasy scenes of adolescent self-awareness.ii

     

    Dorothea Tanning, The Guest Room, 1950 – 52, private collection. Image: Bridgeman Images, Artwork: © ADAGP, Paris and DACS, London 2022
    Dorothea Tanning, The Guest Room, 1950 – 52, Private Collection. Image: Bridgeman Images, Artwork: © ADAGP, Paris and DACS, London 2022


    Playfully acknowledging her approximation of a pictorial idiom more commonly associated with Old Master paintings, Weyant introduces flashes of dark comedy, the painting’s compositional relationship to classical statuary and Old Master paintings such as Caravaggio’s Arciconfraternita di Sant'Anna de Parafrenieri (Madonna and Child with St Anne) emphasised in the purposeful craquelure that ripples across the surface here. Loosely wrapped in a towel modelled with all the theatrical intensity of Baroque drapery, the child leans against the rim of the eponymous bath, her impervious face and averted eyes introducing an air of mischief to the piece. Indeed, while Caravaggio’s Christ child reaches his foot out to trample the serpent – a pervasive symbol of evil and original sin - the child here slyly reaches her foot out towards a jettisoned rubber duck as the overflowing bath water pools on the floor around her. Heavily featured in the early advertising campaign of the Victorian brand of Pears Soap alongside slogans emphasising conceptual connections between cleanliness and purity such as ‘Pure and Gentle’ and ‘keeps your skin soft and smiling with innocence’, Weyant’s adaptation of the baby by the bath motif complicates notions of childhood as straightforwardly innocent and pure, presenting a darkly comic take on what might lie just beneath the surface.

     

    SOAP AD, 1910 American magazine advertisement, 1910, for Pears' Soap. Image: Granger / Bridgeman Images CAPTION: Detail of the present work
    [Left] American magazine advertisement, 1910, for Pears' Soap. Image: Granger / Bridgeman Images
    [Right] Detail of the present work

     

    Collector’s Digest


    • Recently announced as the youngest painter to join the roster at Gagosian Gallery, Canadian artist Anna Weyant has been garnering critical recognition since her first solo exhibition at 56 Henry in 2019.


    • In addition to her forthcoming solo show with Gagosian towards the end of the year, Weyant has also participated in several group shows, most recently Women of Now at the Green Family Art Foundation in Dallas, Texas.

     

    i Sasha Bogojev, ‘Anna Weyant: Welcome to the Dollhouse’, Juxtapoz, 13 July 2020, online.
    ii Noor Brara, ‘Artist Anna Weyant Paints the Indignities of Being a Young Woman – and Collector’s of All Ages Can’t Get Enough’, Artnet News, 16 September 2021, online.

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    • Description

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    • Provenance

      56 Henry, New York
      Acquired from the above by the present owner

Property from a Prominent Private American Collection

32

Bath Time

signed and dated ‘Anna Weyant 2019’ on the reverse
oil on panel
104.8 x 87 cm (41 1/4 x 34 1/4 in.)
Painted in 2019.

Full Cataloguing

Estimate
£80,000 - 120,000 

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Contact Specialist

Kate Bryan
Head of Evening Sale
+44 7391 402741
[email protected]

 

Olivia Thornton
Head of 20th Century & Contemporary Art, Europe
+44 20 7318 4099
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20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale

London Auction 30 June 2022