Genieve Figgis - 20th Century & Contemporary Art & Design Day Sale Hong Kong Thursday, July 9, 2020 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Half Gallery, New York
    Acquired from the above by the present owner

  • Literature

    Alison Gingeras, Genieve Figgis, New York, 2017, pp. 30-31 (illustrated)

  • Catalogue Essay

    Genieve Figgis is a contemporary Irish painter known for her witty and subversive take on art canon masterpieces by artists as diverse as Francisco Goya, Fragonard and Édouard Manet.

    Édouard Manet
    Le Déjeuner sur l'herbe, 1958
    Collection of Musée d'Orsay, Paris
    Figgis’s Ladies Picnic (Dejeuner sur l'herbe) pays homage to Manet’s Le déjeuner sur l'herbe (Luncheon on the Grass). As one of the first artists to paint modern life, Manet was a pivotal figure in the move from Realism to Impressionism. Le déjeuner sur l'herbe, one of the most iconic paintings of the 19th century, sparked controversy and notoriety at the time of its unveiling. A nude woman casually lunches with two young dandies engaged in conversation, whilst a scantily-dressed bather seemingly floats in the curiously flat, unfinished background. The woman stares directly - even confrontationally - at the viewer, her body harshly lit, no longer a comfortable vehicle of fantasy for the male gaze like the smooth, flawless nudes of Cabanel or Ingres.

    Manet’s masterpiece was harshly condemned for its unfinished, sketch-like handling (the result of his preference for alla prima, or wet-on-wet painting) and blatant rejection of academic traditions, but Figgis’s dark humour takes Manet’s handiwork to a new level. Her signature technique of swirling dripped or thickly applied acrylic paints causes her genteel subjects to melt and bleed into the puddled picnic cloth, the surreal tableau enfolded within the eerily dark background. Lushly painted textures and playful details elevate Figgis’s work – the feathered headpieces, the little dog ensconced within the lace-clad lap of his bewigged owner, the vibrantly-coloured petits fours arranged enticingly on the delicate cake stand – and contrast with the ghoulish, skull-like faces of the aristocratic ladies gathered for their macabre picnic.

    With an ironic yet incisive vision of the boundaries between the classical and the contemporary, Figgis posits herself as a worthy heir to Manet. An unconventional rising star in the art world, Figgis was a relative latecomer to painting but caught the attention of the American visual artist Richard Prince on Twitter, who went on to purchase one of her works and introduced her to the New York art scene. She is represented by Almine Rech Gallery in London and Half Gallery in New York.


Ladies Picnic (Déjeuner sur l'herbe)

signed and dated ‘Genieve Figgis 2014’ on the reverse
acrylic on canvas
59.9 x 79.3 cm. (23 5/8 x 31 1/4 in.)
Painted in 2014.

HK$200,000 - 400,000 

Sold for HK$1,025,000

Contact Specialist
Danielle So
Associate Specialist, Head of Day Sale

20th Century & Contemporary Art & Design Day Sale

Hong Kong Auction 9 July 2020