Ewa Juszkiewicz - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale New York Wednesday, November 17, 2021 | Phillips

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    "In my works, I incessantly draw from the past and take up a debate with tradition. I analyze the way that women have been presented in painting, and I have been especially interested in the cultural and social stereotypes for presenting women prevalent in art history."
    —Ewa Juszkiewicz


    Painted in 2013, Girl in Blue is a monumental example of Ewa Juszkiewicz’s acclaimed portraits which have catapulted her onto the global art scene. Executed the same year as the artist’s graduation from the Academy of Fine Arts, Krakow, the present work is an early example of the artist’s mature body of work that challenges traditional conventions of portraiture through erasure. Drawing on centuries of European painting for inspiration—ranging from the Renaissance and Old Masters to the 19th century—Juszkiewicz meticulously renders her portraits with exacting precision yet replaces her sitters’ heads with foreign, and often grotesque, objects, thus destabilizing the conventions of her source material. Amidst the artist’s highly acclaimed oeuvre, Girl in Blue holds a rich exhibition history, having featured in the 41st Painting Biennale, Bielsko-Biała in 2013, followed by Artists from Krakow: The Generation 1980–1990 at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Krakow from 2015 to 2016, among others.  



    Johannes Cornelisz Verspronck, Portrait of a Girl Dressed in Blue, 1641. Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, Image: Rijksmuseum, Purchased with the support of the Vereniging Rembrandt, Amsterdam



    Girl in Blue presents a near exact rendering of Johannes Cornelisz Verspronck’s Portrait of a Girl Dressed in Blue, 1641, Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam. Here, Juszkiewicz disrupts her own skillful emulation by brazenly replacing the female sitter’s head with an oversized fungo. Through this subversion, she situates herself amongst a lineage of 20th and 21st century artists who have explored the history of effacement—from Magritte’s Surrealist portraits, to Francis Bacon’s fantastical popes, to Nathaniel Mary Quinn’s more recent hybrid, fractured renderings. 





    Giuseppe Arcimboldo, Autumn, 1573. Musée du Louvre, Paris, Image: © RMN-Grand Palais / Art Resource, NY



    Juszkiewicz, however, is specifically interested in history’s portrayal of the female sitter and the ways in which past cultural imperatives persist. Girl in Blue has no identity, no age, no name. While her pose and dress indicate a certain level of affluence, her face-lessness prompts discomfort and unease. Her obliterated facial features challenge the male viewer and misogynist notions of ownership around female identity. In discussing her fascination with European portraiture, the artist explains: “I noticed that many of them present women according to a particular formula or convention. For example, in 18th- and 19th-century European painting, women were very often portrayed in a uniform way. Their poses, gestures, and facial expressions were very similar and showed no deep emotion or individuality. As a result, I developed a strong need to reference those portraits, and to establish a dialogue with them. I was driven by a desire to revitalize history, or rather to create my own story on the basis of it.”i 




    Otto Marseus van Schrieck, Still Life with Mushrooms, Lizard and Insects, 17th century. Musée des Beaux-Arts de Rouen, Normandy



    Though often considered a portraitist, Juszkiewicz is just as committed to the tradition of still life. Often replacing her figure’s head with vanitas imagery, Juszkiewicz comments on the transience of beauty which works in conjunction with the lack of identity bestowed on her sitters. In the present work, Juszkiewicz renders a phantastic funghi—possibly poisonous—to suggest the fragility of life and challenge conventional stereotypes of woman as belonging to nature. Her mushroom-head shatters traditional canons of beauty, and in turn conjures a dreamlike narrative that only she inhabits, free of the male gaze.


    i Claire Selvin, “Painter Ewa Juszkiewicz Wants to Shatter Conservative Ideas About Beauty,” ARTnews, November 25, 2020, online.

    • Provenance

      lokal_30, Warsaw
      Acquired from the above by the present owner in 2013

    • Exhibited

      Szczecin, Galeria Zona Sztuki Aktualnej, Urwanie głowy, Juszkiewicz/Kokosiński, February 2013
      Bielsko-Biała, Galeria Bielska, The 41st Painting Biennale "Bielska Jesień 2013", November 9 – December 29, 2013, p. 11 (illustrated)
      Krakow, Museum of Contemporary Art, Artists from Krakow: The Generation 1980–1990, October 16, 2015 - March 27, 2016, p. 110 (illustrated; installation view illustrated, p. 16)
      Vilnius, Museum of Applied Art and Design, The International Exhibition of Contemporary Painting of the 16th Vilnius Painting Triennial ‘Nomadic Images’, November 25 – December 31, 2016

    • Literature

      Kurt Beers, 100 Painters of Tomorrow, New York, 2014, p. 141 (illustrated)
      Ewa Juszkiewicz: The Descent Beckons, exh. cat., Galeria Bielska, Bielsko-Biała, 2015, n.p. (illustrated)

Property from an Important Polish Collection


Girl in Blue

signed and dated "Ewa Juszkiewicz 2013" on the stretcher; further signed, titled and dated "Ewa Juszkiewicz 2013 "Girl in blue"" on the reverse
oil on canvas
78 3/4 x 63 in. (200 x 160 cm)
Painted in 2013.

Full Cataloguing

$80,000 - 120,000 

Sold for $730,800

Contact Specialist

Amanda Lo Iacono
New York Head of Department & Head of Auctions
+1 212 940 1278

20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale

New York Auction 17 November 2021