David Hammons - Under the Influence New York Tuesday, September 16, 2014 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    The Golden State Mutual Life Insurance Company African-American Art Collection
    Swann Galleries, New York, Golden State Mutual Life African-American Art Collection, October 4, 2007, lot 35
    Acquired at the above sale by the present owner

  • Catalogue Essay

    “I feel that my art relates to my total environment – my being a black, political, and social human being. Although I am involved with communicating with others, I believe that my art itself is really my statement. For me it has to be.”
    David Hammons, 1970

    David Hammons’ continually evolving oeuvre has established his practice as one of the most seminal of any American artist working today. His singular ability to encapsulate and reflect a particular cultural experience, in his case that of black Americans in the late 20th and early 21st century, is unparalleled. His “body prints,” of which Moving to the Other Side from 1969 is an excellent example, form the bedrock of his mature work.

    Moving to the Other Side succinctly encapsulates Hammons’ razor-sharp practice and clearly delineates his unique ability to enumerate difference within a community. At once physically corporeal and fleeting, the body prints, as typified by the present lot, were created by covering parts of his own body and clothing in margarine, baby oil, or other greasy substances and then physically pressing it against the paper and subsequently dusting this impression with powdered pigment. Sticking to the greased areas, the pigment reveals in surprising detail the textures of the artist’s hair, clothing, and skin. This particular work is slightly unique in its creation, as Hammons chose to make the initial body print against a silkscreen stratum and then used that screen to create the unique mono-print that is Moving to the Other Side.

    There is a beguiling ambiguity with which Hammons has composed his picture and the indexical layering of the image of the bodies. Interestingly, the lightest impression, which is the furthest to the right and thus the terminus to where a Western eye will read, is also the most obscured – overlaid with the gradually darkening forms promulgating leftward. The viewer immediately understands that there is a conflict embedded within these flattened forms. It is a struggle reflected in the transition from light to dark, left to right, high and low, all of it encapsulated in the visual language of the printed body.

    At the time Moving to the Other Side was printed, Hammons was still working very much within the confines of the picture frame, utilizing formally realistic and representational elements as evidenced by the application of the imprint of his own body as the main “tool” in his art. However, even in so doing, his methodology and subject matter laid the groundwork for the more symbolic and ephemeral works which evolved later in his career. We can see the present lot as an empirical high water mark, an exploration of the possibilities of self-portraiture in an epoch of disintegrated self-hood. The corporeal sensuality of the bodily impressions would give way in Hammons’ practice to the headier utilization of found objects, detritus either pre-laden with symbolic energy or imbued with it as such by its inclusion in Hammons’ art. Here the artist’s body serves as the symbolic lodestone, cut through with rich veins of racial, cultural, political and emotional gravitas. In Moving to the Other Side, Hammons’ body and art become one unified statement, medium and message informing each other, shaping both the viewer’s perception of the work and the statement which it conveys. This striking early example of Hammons’ incredible ability to create aesthetically beautiful works is endowed with a dark underbelly informed by the world in which they were created. Moving to the Other Side conveys and reflects a strident, specific point of view while also encapsulating a poetry of form and open, even endless, possibilities.

  • 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. 

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Moving to the Other Side

silkscreen, in shades of gray on cream wove paper
34 1/2 x 29 1/4 in. (87.6 x 74.3 cm.)
Signed and dated "David Hammons 69" lower left.
This work is unique.

$100,000 - 150,000 

Sold for $112,500

Contact Specialist
Benjamin Godsill
[email protected]
+1 212 940 1260

Under the Influence

New York 16 September 2014 11am