Hannah Wilke - Contemporary Art Day Sale New York Friday, May 16, 2014 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Ronald Feldman Fine Arts, New York
    Acquired from the above by the present owner, 2006

  • Catalogue Essay

    "I was part of my art/my art was part of me, we were inseparable.”
    Hannah Wilke, 1978

    As one of her earliest and most important works, Hannah Wilke’s S.O.S., Starification Object Series depicts the artist herself posing topless with bits of bubble gum stuck upon her flesh. The photographs from this series depict Wilke with a number of editorial props including sunglasses, a hat, her hair in rollers and a turban. By applying the gum in a careful, dotted pattern, Wilke “starifies” herself, transforming herself into a beacon of popular culture while simultaneously referencing the African ritual of scarification in which bodies are ritually scarred. Wilke is subtly commenting on the pain endured in order to achieve the dream of stardom. As Wilke explains “In early 1974, I did a piece called “S.O.S,” which means HELP; it was “Starification Object Series”…..I had a series of 28 photographs that were Scarification wounds but they were made out of my sculpture so I was wearing my art…” (Hannah Wilke in S. Kreuzer, Hannah Wilke 1940-1993, Neue Gesellschaf fur bildende kuns, 2000, p. 144)

    The present lot is a rare and important work that illustrates Wilke as a controversial, intellectual and feminist force. In her final series of works, documenting her death, Roberta Smith describes Wilke as inviting us “to look at the essence of her art and herself -- which was not her beauty, or her liberated sensuality or her narcissism. Rather it was an extraordinary degree of self-love, a simple pride of being that is difficult for anyone, but especially women, to muster. It fueled Wilke’s art throughout her life, and in the end it fared into a torch with which she illuminated her farewell performance.” (Roberta Smith, The New York Times, 1994)


S.0.S. Starification Object Series

black and white photograph
image 7 x 5 in. (17.8 x 12.7 cm.)
frame 12 3/4 x 10 1/2 in. (32.4 x 26.7 cm.)

Signed and annotated "Hannah Wilke DG" on the reverse.

$20,000 - 30,000 

Sold for $37,500

Contact Specialist
Amanda Stoffel
Head of Day Sale
+1 212 940 1261

Contemporary Art Day Sale

New York 16 May 2014 11am