Basil Kincaid - Modern & Contemporary Art Day Sale, Afternoon Session New York Wednesday, May 15, 2024 | Phillips

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  • A seventh-generation quilter, Basil Kincaid expands the visual idiom of their ancestral craft with vibrant works incorporating Ghanian Kente and other clothing fabrics. In Formulation of Words, Bodies and Selves, 2020–2022, Kincaid honors traditional practices while addressing ideas of belonging, memory, rest and spirituality. Kincaid further nods to quilting’s historical spirit of resourcefulness by working with found and donated materials. Considering themself a Post-Disciplinary artist, Kincaid is at the forefront of contemporary artists working with textiles. Their work was notably included in Hauser & Wirth’s 2022 exhibition The New Bend curated by Legacy Russell and they were selected as the 2023 artist-in-residence at the Rubell Museum. In 2021 they were a United States Artist Fellow and their work was acquired by the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, D.C.


    Against the patterned background of Formulation of Words, Bodies and Selves a stylized Black figure rises above a hilly landscape made of brocade fabric. Kincaid explains, “The Black figures that are present throughout the figurative work are representative of the eternal part of my being that endures beyond and throughout physical form.”The being is thus a self-referential symbol of the artist’s spiritual nature: its depiction in the act of creating worlds, selves, and bodies—represented by the three glowing orbs parallels the act of artistic creation. As the artist states about their work, “I didn’t even do this, God did this. I’m just hands. That’s why a lot of time in the work you’ll see these glowing orbs in the hands. You just have to sometimes let yourself be hands, let the spirit move through you.”ii The figure in the quilt, with its exaggeratedly large hands and fluid outlines embroidered in white, appears like an amorphous deity starkly contrasted against the patterned background. Between the figure’s hands, the fabric is softly variegated in hue, imbuing the scene with a radiant energy.   

    “This family tradition, among others, has provided a compass towards self-reclamation in the face of contemporary expectations… It’s a way to honor my predecessors while addressing the questions and concerns of where I am—we are—today.”
    —Basil Kincaid

    Kincaid is based in both Saint Louis and Ghana. They incorporate found and donated fabrics spanning from Saint Louis to East Africa. Motivated by keeping “traditional art forms alive and then amplifying them to meet contemporary needs,” Kincaid, like Ringgold, uses fabric as medium for storytelling, transmitting otherwise marginalized narratives.iii Working from both continents, Kincaid reflects on the experience of being a Black American in Africa, describing a simultaneous connection and unfamiliarity with the place their ancestors left: “My quilts address that gradient sensation of belonging. To paraphrase James Baldwin, a place where you will belong won’t exist until you create it.”iv Their interest in quilting also stems from a desire to sustain ancestral knowledge as well as to elevate found, used, and donated materials imbued with the emotional and spiritual content of their past lives. Kincaid reflects: "The quilt to me, is symbolic of prioritizing rest;” it is a site for leisure and relaxation, “a reminder to take time for yourself to heal and experience life.”v


    i Basil Kincaid in Folasade OlogunduduI, ed., The Rolling Fields to My House, exh. cat., Galleria Poggiali, Milan, 2021

    ii Basil Kincaid in Makeda Easter, “How artist Basil Kincaid made their most ambitious and transformative work yet,” The Art Rebellion, March 27, 2023, online

    iii Ibid.

    iv Basil Kincaid in “Artists: Basil Kincaid,” Kavi Gupta, online

    v Basil Kincaid in Julie Schneider, “Art in Focus: The Symbolic Nature of Basil Kincaid’s Quilt-Based Work,” The Center Magazine, April 26, 2023, online

    • Provenance

      Private Collection (acquired directly from the artist)
      Acquired from the above by the present owner


Formulation of Worlds, Selves and Bodies

embroidered with the artist's signature "Basil Kincaid" upper left
quilt hand-woven Ghanian kente, wax block print cotton fabric, donated clothes, clothes from the artist, Ghanian embroidered fabrics, embroidery and wool
123 1/2 x 64 in. (313.7 x 162.6 cm)
Executed in 2020–2022.

Full Cataloguing

$25,000 - 35,000 

Sold for $44,450

Contact Specialist

Patrizia Koenig
Specialist, Head of Sale, Afternoon Session
+1 212 940 1279

Modern & Contemporary Art Day Sale, Afternoon Session

New York Auction 15 May 2024