Katherine Bernhardt - 20th Century & Contemporary Art & Design Day Sale Hong Kong Tuesday, June 21, 2022 | Phillips

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  • “There is so much horrible stuff, but like, do you wanna dwell on that or, do you wanna look at the positive things? I’d rather look at positive things.”
    — Katherine Bernhardt


    St. Louis native Katherine Bernhardt is internationally renowned for her brightly coloured and exuberantly cluttered canvases inspired by classic cartoons and the everyday objects she interacts with in her day-to-day life. The iconic Garfield and Pink Panther are among her most iconic motifs, who both take centre stage in Garfield After the Hurricane (lot 121) and Panther Hurricane (lot 122), each teeming with fluorescent, eye-popping energy.


    Dubbed by art citric Jerry Saltz as being a ‘female bad boy painter’, who also likened Bernhardt’s paintings that 'exude obsession, endlessness, and germinating optical power' i to those by Jean Michel-Basquiat, Bernhardt has also earned the favourable praise of Roberta Smith, critic for The New York Times, who complimented how she 'paints with great economy and panache, as Andy Warhol might have without silk-screens'ii. As embodied by the present two works, however, which each exemplify the artist’s quick and confident spray-painted technique, Bernhardt has succeeded in forming a painterly voice that is uniquely her own, characterised for being fluid yet thoughtful and above all, unabashedly fun.


    Katherine Bernhardt
    Photo: Dina Litovsky


    Featuring the globally cherished Pink Panther composed of glowing acid pink, Panther Hurricane (lot 121) is quintessential example of Bernhardt’s oeuvre. Confronting his audience from the centre of the mulberry-toned work, the high-spirited feline is captured in the midst of a dance, with one hand by his hips and one raised high above his head with a finger pointed upwards as if grooving along to the Bee Gee’s Saturday Night Fever (1977). Looking straight at the viewer with droopy eyes that hint at the panther either having danced until the early house or being in a euphoric state of tipsiness from his tall-fluted glass, his neon-yellow eyelids mirror the rounded lemons around him, that float in the background like the beaming spotlights of a dancefloor. The slap-dash layering of the canvas perfectly parallels the carefree nature of Bernhardt’s characters, as we too, feel beckoned to join in the fun.



    Pink Panther show credits, 1978

    “My work is directly related to the house where I grew up and the maximalist aesthetic that is within it. Space filled up everywhere with no space to breathe, my work kind of copies that. Filling every inch of the canvas with symbols and things.”
    — Katherine Bernhardt

    Garfield After the Hurricane (lot 122) further showcases how this distinct treatment complements the subject matter. Defined by a sharp black outline that immediately pops off the canvas, Garfield finds himself in an aftershock of a tempestuous hurricane. With eyes bulging out in astonishment, his wavering state is enhanced by the coarsely applied neon orange that drips down his body, trickling and pooling like drops of heavy rain. Trapped in the mix are bananas and lemons that populate the background, appearing to almost animate with movement as they swirl around the central figure. Though the chaotic composition is full of kinetic energy, emanating a sense of sympathy in the viewer for the Persian ginger tabby cat caught out in the storm, his face is beaming with a wide, excited smile that instead imbues the work with an amusing charisma, which is marvellously representative of Bernhardt’s playful lexicon.


    A collection of trinkets in the artist’s St. Louis studio
    Photo by Lyndon French, Courtesy David Zwirner Gallery


    Katherine Bernhardt recieved her BFA from the Art Institute of Chicago and her MFA from the School of Visual Arts, New York. First gaining momentum in 2017, Bernhardt held her first institutional solo exhibition at the Modern Art Museum of Forth Worth, also creating a 60 foot long mural, XXL Superflat Pancake, for the St. Louis Contemporary Art Museum in the same year. Bernhardt’s notable recent exhibitions include: Ahí donde no has llegao’ sabes que te llevaré, Diablo Rosso, Panama City (2021); Katherine Bernhardt‌, José Luis Vargas: VOODOO MAYO KETCHUP, Carl Freeman Gallery, Margate (2020), and Garfield on Scotch Tape, Xavier Hufkens, Brussels (2019).


    In 2021, David Zwirner announced joint representation of the artist along with CANADA Gallery. The artist’s first solo exhibition with Zwirner will be forthcoming in 2022 at their London gallery.


    Work by the Bernhardt is found in prominent public and museum collections, including the Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh; Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo, Turin; High Museum of Art, Atlanta; Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington D.C.; Knoxville Museum of Art, Tennessee; Portland Museum of Art, Maine; Rubell Museum, Miami; and San Antonio Museum of Art, Texas. Bernhardt lives and works in St. Louis.



    i Jerry Saltz, ‘Why Have There Been No Great Women Bad-Boy Artists? There Have Been, of Course. But the Art World Has Refused to Recognize Them.’, New York Magazine, 29 September 2015, online

    ii Roberta Smith, 'Katherine Bernhardt: Stupid, Crazy, Ridiculous, Funny Patterns’, The New York Times, 20 February 2014, online

    • Provenance

      Carl Freedman Gallery, London
      Acquired from the above by the present owner in 2017

    • Artist Biography

      Katherine Bernhardt

      American • 1975

      Katherine Bernhardt, whether in her paintings or make-shift Moroccan rugs, is rapt by neons and geometries. The artist, who works in New York, takes an almost hasty-flick of a brushstroke that lands as a jagged architectural form — figures cut in space and in buzzing colors that leave a mental trace.

      Seemingly each month, multiple galleries, museums or art fairs across the world exhibit Bernhardt's large-scale fantasies and rug-centric installations, as seen in 2017 at Art Basel and with a solo retrospective at the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, Fort Worth. "I think the best painters don't intellectualize their own art—they just make stuff," she says; but with sharks circling trash in the water in today's climate, as is depicted in Sharks, Toilet Paper and Plantains, it's not hard to see Bernhardt's deeper meanings. 

      View More Works


Panther Hurricane

signed and dated 'Katherine Bernhardt 2017' on the reverse
acrylic and spray paint on canvas
152.5 x 121.9 cm. (60 x 47 7/8 in.)
Executed in 2017.

Full Cataloguing

HK$300,000 - 500,000 

Sold for HK$2,772,000

Contact Specialist

Danielle So
Specialist, Head of Day Sale
+852 2318 2027

20th Century & Contemporary Art & Design Day Sale

Hong Kong Auction 21 June 2022