Lauren Quin - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale London Thursday, March 3, 2022 | Phillips

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  • 'The medium of paint, how it works chemically – I had to learn it the hard way.'  —Lauren Quin


    Presenting a psychedelic tangle of thick, tubular forms that appear to be burrowing into the densely layered surface of the canvas, the characteristically immersive and large-scale Airsickness marks the auction debut of one of Los Angeles’ most exciting and in-demand emerging artists. Hailed as ‘the painter doing abstraction her own way’, Lauren Quin has developed an electrifying visual language that combines strikingly organic - even corporeal - forms with an intensely saturated palette and pulsating kinetic energy.i Bringing to mind twisted plant roots, bundles of arteries, or microbial life, Quin’s forms possess a rhythmic vitality that animates the entire surface of the canvas.


    Although having completed her MFA with the prestigious Yale School of Art in 2018, Quin describes her practice as largely self-taught, crediting her untrained father as an important and highly formative influence in her youth. It was an encounter with the so-called ‘tubism’ of the French Cubist Fernand Léger’s early work however that firmly set the young Quin on her own path.


    'I looked at Léger’s paintings as antithetical to mine in the way that they were organised, and I wanted to make something with that organisational tool' —Lauren Quin


    Characterised by their bold palette and graphic sense of line, Léger’s paintings adapted Cubist methods and ways of looking, applying them to an art of everyday modern life. Fascinated by mechanical and industrial imagery, Léger incorporated these elements into his paintings, generating spatially complex fields of fragmented cylindrical forms viewed from multiple perspectives.



    Fernand Léger, The Railway Crossing, 1919, The Art Institute of Chicago, Image: The Art Institute of Chicago/Art Resource, NY/Scala, Florence, Artwork: © ADAGP, Paris and DACS, London 2022

    Fernand Léger, Le passage à niveau, Esquisse (The Railway Crossing, Sketch), 1919, The Art Institute of Chicago. Image: The Art Institute of Chicago/Art Resource, NY/Scala, Florence, Artwork: © ADAGP, Paris and DACS, London 2022


    Picking up on the compositional possibilities of these volumetric cylinders, and the ways in which Léger used them to organise light and structure in his work, Quin adopted the tube and reimagined it as ‘a rule to bend – a rule to break’, with highly innovative results.ii

    Airsickness is typical of Quin’s most recent body of work in its focus on these luminous, knotted tubes. Starting with these forms, which Quin manipulates into tunnel shapes through drawing and the application of gradients, she gradually builds up the surface of her work in a series of dense layers.  The strikingly organic quality of these tubular forms works on a technical as well as visual level, the artist etching into the still-wet surface of her canvases with butter knives or medical spoons dipped in turpentine, revealing the layers of paint below and creating contrasting, overlaid ripples that vibrate across the canvas. Highly energetic, the densely patterned surface radically disrupts the viewer’s perspective in a manner that recalls the compositional complexity of Albert Oehlen’s ‘computer paintings’, and the layered multimedia landscapes of fellow contemporary artists Sarah Sze and Avery Singer.



    CAPTION: Albert Oehlen, U.D.O 15, 2001 – 2005, Galeria Juana de Aizpuru, Madrid, Image: Album/Scala, Florence, Artwork: © Albert Oehlen. All Rights Reserved, DACS 2022     CAPTION: Detail of the present work 

    Left: Albert Oehlen, U.D.O 15, 2001 – 2005, Galería Juana de Aizpuru, Madrid. Image: Album/Scala, Florence, Artwork: © Albert Oehlen. All Rights Reserved, DACS 2022
    Right: Detail of the present work 


    At first glance Quin’s works seem to have the quality of digital collage, her careful use of gradient motifs appearing to reference computer tools and image-making. However, her methods are in fact remarkably analogue, involving drawing, scratching, systematic mark-making, and a form of trace mono-printing whereby the surface of the work is gently pressed onto an ink-covered pane of glass, staining the carved line drawings. Alongside this internal interplay of etched, printed, and painted layers that Quin likens to naturally occurring moiré patterns, her tendency to work on multiple paintings at once generates a profound sense of organic growth that moves beyond the picture’s edge, closely binding these works together through their shared biomorphic structure. Organic, sensual, and highly active, Airsickness truly comes alive in the flesh, its snaking tubes evoking a sense of movement that oscillates between the microscopic and the interdimensional.



    Collector’s Digest


    •    Just this year, Lauren Quin has been the subject of significant critical attention, with works recently acquired by prestigious institutions including the Institute of Contemporary Arts, Miami, the Walker Arts Centre, Minnesota, and the X Museum in Beijing. Airsickness represents the artist’s auction debut.


    •    Quin opened her first European solo show Bat’s Belly at Loyal Gallery Stockholm in June 2021 and presented her second solo exhibition of works at Friends Indeed Galley in San Francisco in July. She has also contributed to important group shows with Blum & Poe, Los Angeles and Downs and Ross in New York.


    •    Quin was awarded her BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2015 and earned her MFA from Yale School of Art in 2019. 


    i Stephanie Eckardt, ‘In the Studio with Lauren Quin, the Painter Doing Abstraction Her Own Way’, W Magazine, 8 July 2021, online 

    ii Stephanie Eckardt, ‘In the Studio with Lauren Quin, the Painter Doing Abstraction Her Own Way’, W Magazine, 8 July 2021, online

    • Provenance

      Loyal Gallery, Stockholm
      Acquired from the above by the present owner

    • Exhibited

      Stockholm, Loyal Gallery, Bat's Belly, 3 June - 17 July 2021, n.p. (illustrated)

Property from an Important European Collection



signed and dated 'L Quin 2021' on the reverse
oil on canvas
127 x 229 cm (50 x 90 1/8 in.)
Painted in 2021.

Full Cataloguing

£30,000 - 50,000 

Sold for £441,000

Contact Specialist

Rosanna Widén
Senior Specialist, Head of Evening Sale
+ 44 20 7318 4060

Olivia Thornton
Head of 20th Century & Contemporary Art, Europe
+ 44 20 7318 4099

20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale

London Auction 3 March 2022