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

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    "I often think, ‘What’s the objective?’ For me, it’s to capture this life, to leave something behind. It’s almost a poem on canvas; it’s a tangible, visual poem. It’s something that just encapsulates life."
    —Honor Titus



    An ode to the romance and paradoxical isolation of a large American metropolis, Honor Titus’ Linden Blvd Jazz Radio is one of the artist’s more haunting and evocative works. Painted in 2019, when Titus—a native of Brooklyn, New York—was living in Los Angeles, the present work radiates with a pulsating sense of nostalgia. Through a carefully cropped view of an 1899 Brooklyn French Renaissance Revival façade, the painting draws the viewer into a curious vignette, intentionally bringing the focus to the lone human protagonist on the top floor that exudes an exquisite rendering of bewildering quiet in the atmosphere. 



    Edward Hopper, Early Sunday Morning, 1930. Whitney Museum of Art, New York, Image: © Whitney Museum of American Art / Licensed by Scala / Art Resource, NY, Artwork: © 2021 Heirs of Josephine Hopper / Licensed by VAGA at Artists Rights Society (ARS), NY  



    Honor Titus grew up immersed in the cultural arts scene in New York during the late 1990s and early 2000s. Son of rapper Andres “Dres” Titus of the famed duo Black Sheep, his childhood and teenage years were spent around poets and artists: “I remember seeing Patti Smith give a talk at St. Mark's Church. Richard Hell, too. Coming up in the 2000s, it was one of those New York moments where everything felt possible. There was a kind of punk renaissance with Beat undertones.”i In 2008, Titus formed the punk-rock band Cerebral Ballzy—and while the band achieved impressive accolades and eventually signed to the iconic Cult Records (the record label of The Strokes lead vocalist, Julian Casablancas), their commercial success was still modest. It was then that he began his foray into his painterly practice as the studio assistant to Raymond Pettibon, who ignited a spark and passion for painting in Titus. As the artist expressed, “With Raymond, painting was about the simplicity, solace and the comfort the act provided.”ii 



    "Painting for me is kind of journalistic. I would reference something that I’d been thinking about a lot or I would paint a girl that I was thinking about or something like that."
    —Honor Titus



    From that point onward, Titus’ practice would develop into its unique artistic language and culminate into works such as Linden Blvd Jazz Radio. The artist eventually moved to Los Angeles where his work caught the attention of artist Henry Taylor, who would become a mentor and the first to exhibit Honor Titus’ work in his space. Whilst drawing inspiration from the French post-impressionist group Les Nabis—whose members such as Édouard Vuillard, Félix Vallotton, and Pierre Bonnard strove to abandon the conventions of accurate perspective and representation in painting—Titus instead placed emphasis on flatness of lines, colors, and decorative elements. While the philosophical influences of Vuillard and his peers are visible in Linden Blvd Jazz Radio’s flat dark crimson planes and the intricately detailed, baroque moldings around the building’s windows, there is yet an eeriness and mystery to the work, that is entirely of Titus’ own device.



    Faith Ringgold, Street Story Quilt, 1985. Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Image: © The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Image source: Art Resource, NY, Artwork: © 2021 Faith Ringgold / Artists Rights Society (ARS), NY



    Evocative of American painter Edward Hopper’s depiction of eerie urban vistas, Titus masterfully chooses elements in his composition: the lone figure at the top left window, echoed by the solitary glowing streetlamp, set in direct diagonal to the right. A dazzling triumph of Titus’ technical prowess, Linden Blvd Jazz Radio is a testimony of the artist’s uncanny ability to conjure, not only distinct narratives in his work, but a sensational surrealist air that masterfully presents a poignant reflection on the human experience. 

    i Honor Titus, quoted in Arty Nelson, “Meet Honor Titus, the Punk Survivor With the Sold-Out Art Shows,” GQ Magazine, March 3, 2021, online.
    ii Ibid.

    • Provenance

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

    • Exhibited

      Los Angeles, Penske Projects, The Garden: New Work by Greg Ito and Honor Titus, June 27 – July 27, 2019

Property from a Private Collection, New York


Linden Blvd Jazz Radio

signed "Honor" lower right
oil on canvas
86 1/2 x 70 5/8 in. (219.7 x 179.4 cm)
Painted in 2019.

Full Cataloguing

$30,000 - 50,000 

Sold for $163,800

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