David Hammons - 20th Century and Contemporary Art Evening Sale New York Thursday, July 2, 2020 | Phillips

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  • In Short

    “As a former high school basketball player, Hammons brings his own love and devotion to the theme of sport, regardless of the prime social, cultural, and economic metaphors that play out in his works on that theme…basketball remains a favored target, foil, and object of devotion”
    – Franklin Sirmans

     Sports page from the Amsterdam News, New York, November 2, 1991, used as source material for present lot.
  • Hammons's Revenge

    Over his career, David Hammons has turned the tenets of contemporary art against themselves. From declining interviews to refusing to partake in the traditional gallery model of artist representation to declining museum exhibition requests, he has questioned nearly every facet of the art world, re-envisioning the functionless ready-mades of Marcel Duchamp within the context of current race realities. Hammons’s objects, however, carry an emotive charge transcending Dadaism as poignant metaphors for the Black experience in America.

    “By making art from detritus and found materials, Hammons attempts to put himself on the same plane as the historically marginal and opens himself up to their canons of beauty and perseverance that sometimes translates as transformational magic” – Kellie Jones
    Basketball has figured as a core motif in Hammons’s oeuvre since 1983, when his work Higher Goals—a net atop a 55-foot pole adorned with bottle caps—was installed in Harlem. “It was the first of many basketball-themed art works by Hammons,” according to Calvin Tomkins, “whose own hoop dreams died when he stopped growing at five feet eight.”[i] Though the sport was an outlet for the artist during his adolescence, his perspective on basketball has since evolved both ambiguously and dramatically. 

     David Hammons, Higher Goals, 1983. Artwork © 2020 David Hammons
    “I’m enraged by basketball,” the typically taciturn artist told Sports Illustrated in 1990 when asked about why so much of his work is centered around the sport, “[so] this is my revenge.” He elucidated that “it’s an anti-basketball sculpture. Basketball has become a problem in the black community because kids aren’t getting an education. They’re pawns in someone else’s game. That’s why it’s called Higher Goals. It means you should have higher goals in life than basketball.”[ii]

    As his preoccupation with basketball grew, Hammons began to occasionally reference star player Michael Jordan. One work, Which Mike Do You Want to Be Like…?, 2001, features three microphones on stands, challenging the myth that young black children need to be prodigious athletes (such as Michael Jordan and Mike Tyson) or performers (as Michael Jackson) in order to be afforded any mass-media representation. In Hidden Drawing (Jordan begins 8th season as No. 1), a newspaper article on Michael Jordan is rolled up and held by a coat hanger, just as a piece of clothing would, alluding to the commodification of black bodies Hammons asserts is at the center of basketball, which in his opinion is a white man’s game. 
    Marcel Duchamp, Bottle Rack (Porte-Bouteilles), 1958-1959. The Art Institute of Chicago, Photo credit: The Art Institute of Chicago / Art Resource, NY, Artwork © 2020 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris / Estate of Marcel Duchamp
    “As an artist, David Hammons expands our definition of the term with his varied and evolving practice. He is a ‘hip junk dealer’, sculptor, performer, conceptual artist, environmental sculptor, magician, philosopher, social commentator…who positions himself somewhere between Marcel Duchamp, outsider art and Arte Povera” – Kellie Jones 

    [i] Calvin Tomkins, “David Hammons Follows His Own Rules,” New Yorker, December 2, 2019, online.
    [ii] David Hammons, quoted in Merrell Noden, “A Very High Form of Art,” Sports Illustrated, vol. 73, no. 26, December 24, 1990. 

  • The Hoops of Hammons

    • Provenance

      Acquired directly from the artist by the present owner in 1991

    • Artist Biography

      David Hammons

      American • 1943

      Few artists are afforded the liberty to dictate exhibition schedules and public appearances, but David Hammons eschews the spotlight and rebels against the conventions of the art world. Whether intentionally or not, Hammons creates works so laden with spell-binding metaphor that they have become symbols for movements both in the art world as well as in the public domain. (His now-iconic In the Hood sculpture has been used by Black Lives Matter activist group.)

      Hammons doesn't work in mediums or any formal or academic theory—he famously has said, "I can't stand art actually." Still, with controversial works including his PETA-paint-splashed Fur Coat sculpture, Hammons remains one of contemporary art's most watched artists. Hammons also doesn't frequently exhibit, and his last major gallery show, 2016's "Five Decades," only featured 34 works. With a controlled market, Hammons saw Untitled, a basketball hoop with dangling candelabra, achieve $8 million at Phillips in 2013. 

      View More Works

Property from the Over Holland Collection


Hidden Drawing (Jordan begins 8th season as No. 1)

newspaper, paint, rubber bands, tape and coat hanger
4 1/2 x 23 x 1 1/2 in. (11.4 x 58.4 x 3.8 cm)
Executed in 1991.

This work refers to “Jordan begins 8th season as No. 1”, Amsterdam News, November 2, 1991.

Full Cataloguing

$150,000 - 200,000 

Sold for $181,250

Contact Specialist

Amanda Lo Iacono
Head of Evening Sale
New York
+1 212 940 1278

20th Century and Contemporary Art Evening Sale

New York Auction 2 July 2020