Katherine Bernhardt - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale Hong Kong Friday, October 6, 2023 | Phillips

Create your first list.

Select an existing list or create a new list to share and manage lots you follow.

  • “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


    Endearing and full of life, Green Suit One is an electrifying work by the American artist Katherine Bernhardt. Best known for her depictions of cartoons and characters borrowed from American pop culture such as the Pink Panther, E.T., Garfield, Smurfs, and Darth Vader, the present work belongs to the artist’s Animal series and stands as a unique and rare painting to appear on the market. 

    In Green Suit One, Bernhardt takes inspiration from the much-admired elephant character, Babar. Widely renowned and read as a classic children’s book, this series has become a cultural icon in children’s literature and further reached the extent of inspiring adaptations such as the present work. A nod to Bernhardt’s ever-expanding interest in the visual culture of contemporary society, this series follows the adventures of Babar, a young elephant who eventually becomes the King of the Elephants. Striding with a sense of purpose donning his signature bright suit, the demeanor of the elephant in the present work draws parallels to the one featured in the 1931 cover of Histoire de Babar.


    Babar illustrated on the cover of the French children’s book Histoire de Babar


    Bernhardt’s practice is characterised by her individualistic artistic technique – a combination of process painting, Colour Field painting and street graffiti. Brimming with full expression and imbued with a sense of fluidity, the artist begins by contouring the shapes of her subjects with spray paint then proceeds with applying intuitive strokes of diluted acrylics before allowing it to slowly pool together by chance. 

    Green Suit One was part of Bernhardt’s solo exhibition at Xavier Hufkens in 2019. Though the title suggests a green suit, Baber is in fact wearing a black suit. Slices of watermelon are Bernhardt’s signature patterns used repeatedly in many of her works, perhaps alluding to the enchanting surroundings. The choice of tropical fruits allows Bernhardt to experiment with the vibrant colours. Green Suit One is not the only work that showcases the character Babar. In several of her other paintings, Babar is positioned against Nike logo, Scotch tape, and Coca Cola. Combining these visual symbols from different eras, Bernhardt creates a world that evokes our mutual reminiscence of the past.

    Bernhardt’s insatiable visual appetite has catapulted her reputation as one of the most vibrant and daring painters of our time. Born 1975 in St. Louis, the artist received her BFA from the Art Institute of Chicago and her MFA from the School of Visual Arts, New York. Currently represented by David Zwirner in partnership with Canada Gallery, Bernhardt’s works are housed in important museum collections such as the Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh; High Museum of Art, Atlanta; Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington D. C.; Rubell Museum, Miami; among others.

    • Provenance

      Xavier Hufkens Gallery, Brussels
      Acquired from the above by the present owner

    • 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


Green Suit One

signed, titled, inscribed and dated '2019 Babar Katherine Bernhardt "Green Suite ONE (Le Jardin)"' on the reverse
acrylic and spray paint on canvas
198.1 x 183.5 cm. (77 7/8 x 72 1/4 in.)
Executed in 2019.

Full Cataloguing

HK$700,000 - 1,200,000 

Sold for HK$889,000

Contact Specialist

Anastasia Salnikoff
Head of Day Sale, Associate Specialist
+852 2318 2014

20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale

Hong Kong Auction 7 October 2023