Lauren Quin - Modern & Contemporary Art Evening Sale Hong Kong Friday, May 31, 2024 | Phillips
  • “I was really thinking about the tube as an artery and different cuts of the body that show the body cut vertically and splayed open –not in a grotesque way necessarily, but in a way that is aware of the microscopic possibilities of the body.”
    — Lauren Quin
    Witnessed firsthand, Lauren Quin’s Second Mercury Mounts leaves a staggering impact on the viewer, akin to the power of music, with its masterful composition and a plethora of evocative and ineffable intellectual stimuli. The myriad of colours and lines evoke the freedom of the Abstract Impressionists in the 1940s, jazz-like in their energy, rhythm, and figurative weightlessness, yet Quin takes these influences and infuses them with her unique artistic vision, resulting in an even more diverse range of features and characteristics in her work: seemingly three-dimensional Day-Glo tubes intertwine throughout her sharp black pencilled sketches, creating a dynamic explosion of colours and multi-layered symmetries of shape Second Mercury Mounts is pleasingly organic with a natural ebb and flow all the while exuding an element of shock and unpredictability akin to the surreal nature of a waking dream.





    Though Quin’s rise to artistic prominence has been swift - her first solo shows debuted as she was finishing her MFA in her late 20s - it has undoubtedly been achieved through great practice, experience, and study. Initially taught by her father, she earned degrees from both the Art Institute of Chicago and Yale School of Art, but dreamt up her trademark imagery during an artist residency in Maine, walking at night in the woods: ‘I had never experienced pitch black as I did [then]… Your sense of depth is completely removed. You have to turn your flashlight off, because the light attracts bugs, and just remember that you’re on a path. I kept feeling like things were flying at me and I was being pushed through a tube’i. Even now, she continues to try and replicate this sublime feeling in her work: ‘it’s like the painting falls off the edges, and I keep moving into the center’ ii.


    Soon after, further examples and counterexamples from art history shaped her unique artistic depiction of the aforementioned experience. As she perused the galleries at Yale, she was especially struck by one painting there by Fernand Léger, whose cylindrical, industry-inspired Modernist work was scorned as ‘Tubism’ for its apparent disorganisation and unreality. Having felt a profound impact from The Railway Crossing (Sketch), it left a lasting impression on her, in that she would begin to adopt Léger's tubular shapes while drawing inspiration from the intricate tunnels and networks within the human body, resulting in works that were an absolute visual feast that captured the dreamlike essence she had been longing to achieve as she inflated the shapes until they greatly altered the depth of her paintings.


    Fernand Léger, The Scaffolding (First State), 1919, Philadelphia Museum of Art. Image: Philadelphia Museum of Art, A.E. Gallatin Collection, 1952, 1952-61-57. Artwork: © 2024 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris


    Multi-Layered Method


    Alongside this wealth of influences, Quin’s massive and multi-form paintings require various specific techniques that are carefully structured yet allow for great improvisation. Tubes always make up her base layer, with smaller intersecting lines building up to bigger, sprawling ones. Over this, she repeats a wide range of visual material sourced from her personal archive -ranging from baroque mythological paintings to animal features to model’s hands- as both line drawings, and then carvings made with knives or spoons, and finally a print pressed onto the canvas with ink-covered glass.


    Detail of the present lot

    The frustration stemming from the limited opportunity for viewers to experience her artwork up close during the pandemic has served as a catalyst for Quin's decision to create larger-scale paintings.  This newfound inspiration has led her to explore the expansive dimensions of her canvases in order to provide viewers with a heightened sense of presence and engagement. Like in the present lot Second Mercury Mounts, the larger dimensions certainly offer an opportunity to appreciate the intricate details, textures, and nuances of her work from a closer perspective despite physical distancing limitations at the time. Whatever inheritances her work may carry from Léger or explosive personal favourites Albert Oehlen and Charline von Heyl, she most admires them for their unpredictable mindset -‘Just always making a left turn, you know?...There’s always something destructive’iii - and it is this exact quality that she best emulates in her transcendent body of work.



    Albert Oehlen, Untitled, 1998.
    Sold by Phillips London, 16 October 2014
    Artwork: © 2024 Albert Oehlen / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York



    Collector’s Digest


    Born in 1992 in Los Angeles and still based there, Lauren Quin quickly followed a BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago with rapid success in the art world, gaining both an MFA from Yale School of Art and having had her first exhibitions in Los Angeles and New York in 2019. Her striking, fully-realised aesthetic of rhythmically interlocking tubes has continued to meet with wide notice and great acclaim. She held her first solo museum exhibition, My Hellmouth at the Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art, Kansas, alongside a Tokyo gallery show (Salon Real at Blum & Poe) in 2023, and has also exhibited in Stockholm, Miami, and San Francisco. Her next exhibition, Logopanic, will be held at 125 Newbury in New York from May 3rd until June 15th. Her current auction record is held by Phillips New York with Airsickness, which sold for $587,451 USD -over ten times its low estimate- in March 2022. Another, Third Belly, sold for $1,905,000 HKD -over twice its high estimate- in March 2023 at Phillips Hong Kong. Her work is featured in public collections worldwide, including the Yuz and Long Museums in Shanghai, the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, and the High Museum of Art in Atlanta.


    Lauren Quin, quoted in Stephanie Eckhardt, “In the Studio With Lauren Quin, the Painter Doing Abstraction Her Own Way,” W Magazine, July 8, 2021 online.

    ii Ibid.

    iii Lauren Quin, quoted in Michael Slenske, “Lauren Quin’s Kaleidoscopic Paintings Rethink Abstraction,”, Artsy, July 14 2024, online.

    • Provenance

      Downs & Ross, New York
      Acquired from the above by the present owner in 2020

    • Exhibited

      New York, Downs & Ross, When Above, 10 December 2020 - 16 January 2021

    • Artist Biography

      Lauren Quin

      Lauren Quin (b. 1992) lives and works in Los Angeles, California. She holds an MFA from the Yale School of Art, New Haven, CT and a BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, IL. She forms her canvases by painting repeated, intercepted, and reconnected shapes and colors. She is most known for the “tube” shape throughout her compositions. Her work has been the subject of solo exhibitions including her first US museum show My Hellmouth, Nerman Museum of Art, Overland Park, KS (2023); Sagittal Fours, Pond Society, Shanghai, China (2022); Pulse Train Howl, Blum & Poe, Los Angeles, CA (2022), and group exhibitions such as Fire Figure Fantasy: Selections from ICA Miami’s Collection, Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami, FL (2022); and On Boxing, Blum & Poe, Los Angeles, CA (2021).

      Her work is held in numerous public collections including the Columbus Museum of Art, Columbus, OH; Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas, TX; Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, CA; High Museum of Art, Atlanta, GA; Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami, FL; Long Museum, Shanghai, China; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, CA; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA; Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art, Overland Park, KS; Pérez Art Museum, Miami, FL; Phoenix Art Museum, Phoenix, AZ; Smart Museum, Chicago, IL; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, MN and Yuz Museum, Shanghai, China.

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Second Mercury Mounts

signed 'L Quin' on the reverse
oil on canvas
182.9 x 182.9 cm. (72 x 72 in.)
Painted in 2020.

Full Cataloguing

HK$450,000 - 550,000 

Sold for HK$762,000

Contact Specialist

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

Modern & Contemporary Art Evening Sale

Hong Kong Auction 31 May 2024