Chris Ofili - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale, Afternoon Session New York Wednesday, November 15, 2023 | Phillips

Create your first list.

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

  • With intertwined, sinuous forms, Chris Ofili’s The Almighty Shadow reinterprets art historical and religious iconography with a highly stylized crucifix. The work was first exhibited in the artist’s 2007 solo show Devil’s Pie at David Zwirner and later featured in his survey exhibition Chris Ofili: Night and Day at the New Museum in 2014. The present example extends the artist’s multi-media practice, bringing the linearity of his painted forms into a tactile, three-dimensional figure. Elaborating on the artist’s bronze sculptures, New Museum curator Massimiliano Gioni remarked how these works mirror the “wriggling, serpentine forms of the characters in his latest paintings.” With tapered, outstretched arms and loosely defined doubled legs, The Almighty Shadow languidly drapes from the wall in a demonstration of Ofili’s celebrated blend of idolatry and iconoclasm.

    “Ofili has recontextualized the Catholicism he grew up with, imbuing Christian iconography with radically new pomp and circumstance while imbuing the figure, in three dimensions and two, with a vivid new life.”
    —Klaus Kertess
    The Almighty Shadow was made two years after the British artist moved to Trinidad in 2005, a time in which he was engaging with the Catholic iconography of his upbringing in combination with influences from Trinidadian folklore. In the present example, Ofili reinterprets the art historical and religious icon with an unexpected contemporary stylization. In Devil’s Pie, The Almighty Shadow was exhibited alongside six bronze sculptures that tackled biblical subjects, including the Annunciation and Saint Sebastian, with renewed interpretations. The present example also draws upon an established lineage in Ofili’s oeuvre that includes works such as The Holy Virgin Mary, 1996, in the collection of the Museum of Modern Art, New York. The Almighty Shadow uniquely expands upon this precedent in three dimensions. As viewers move around the work, its form and shadow subtly shift in a tantalizing metamorphosis, a nod to the elusiveness of the divine. 

    • Provenance

      David Zwirner, New York
      Acquired from the above by the present owner in 2008

    • Exhibited

      New York, David Zwirner, Chris Ofili: Devil's Pie, September 20–November 3, 2007, pp. 136–138, 147, n.p. (another example exhibited and illustrated, p. 137; installation view of another example illustrated, p. 138)
      New York, New Museum, Chris Ofili: Night and Day, October 29, 2014–February 1, 2015, pp. 56, 211 (another example exhibited and illustrated, p. 56)

    • Literature

      Chris Ofili, New York, 2009, pp. 226, 266 (another example illustrated, p. 226)
      Benjamin Sutton, “Chris Ofili’s Gone and Dung It Again,” Hyperallergic, October 29, 2014, online (another example illustrated)
      Roberta Smith, “Medium and Message, Both Unsettling,” The New York Times, October 30, 2014, online (another example illustrated)
      D. Creahan, “New York – Chris Ofili: ‘Night and Day’ at the New Museum through January 25th, 2015,” Art Observed, January 7, 2015, online (another example illustrated)


The Almighty Shadow

incised with the artist's signature, number and foundry mark "Chris Ofili 3/3" on the underside
bronze and stainless steel bracket
42 x 45 x 11 in. (106.7 x 114.3 x 27.9 cm)
Executed in 2007, this work is number 3 from an edition of 3.

Full Cataloguing

$40,000 - 60,000 

Sold for $38,100

Contact Specialist

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

20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale, Afternoon Session

New York Auction 15 November 2023