Louis Fratino - New Now New York Wednesday, September 28, 2022 | Phillips

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  • Louis Fratino’s Grapefruit Breakfast is a sumptuous example of the artist’s devotion to the themes of queerness, intimate comfort and sweet languor. The present work, with its bowed linework and flattened depth recalls cubist and modernist techniques of representation. Painted in 2017 and exhibited at the artist’s second solo exhibition in the same year at Thierry Goldberg in New York, Grapefruit Basket is an homage to a couple’s shared sense of home.

    "I’m thinking about the viewer and letting the viewer be me […] I like to include bits of people as well, so there are small parts of yourself that you can see as if in your periphery, which is an indication that you are that person. I want the viewer to feel what I’m feeling."
    —Louis Fratino

    The Sensuality of the “Forbidden” Fruit


    The act of sharing fruit, a legendary image in literature and cinema that suggests sexual interest, a shared “essence,” is the central narrative in Fratino’s work. Recalling the same tenderness akin to the biblical scene of Adam and Eve, Fratino’s Grapefruit Breakfast is a tender rendition of the same image. Recalling the scene in the coming-of-age film Call Me by Your Name, also from 2017, where Timothée Chalamet shares a peach with co-star and love interest Armie Hammer, the figures in Grapefruit Breakfast sit intimately together over shared fruit.


    Despite their gaze not being met, they share a moment of consumption: Fratino’s ability to “fracture and bend perspective,” with his distortion of fore-and-backgrounds, “fast-tracks the emotional connection of his subjects […] The pieces come across as highly erotic without ever feeling maudlin or lecherous; capturing, in concert, the cruisey, moody, poetic landscape of urban gay desire.i"


    "Fratino’s idealizations of male beauty conjure a host of precedents, from art historical works like the ancient Greek kouroi and Thomas Eakins’s Arcadian scenes to contemporary cultural products like the queer zine Butt."
    —Eric Sutphin


    Tom of Finland, Untitled from the series Motorcycle, 1959–1960
    Tom of Finland, Untitled from the series Motorcycle, 1959–1960. Artwork: © 2022 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. 

    The Male Gaze Pointed Towards Men


    Louis Fratino’s use of perspective recalls the work of Tom of Finland, a pioneer of artfully portraying men sexualized by other men. In contrast to Fratino’s tender depiction of domesticity, Tom of Finland’s Untitled portrays a starker image of homoerotic men in public. The figures each appear with shiny, leather jackets, and in this work, their gaze is met. Relying on this shared gaze to suggest a sense of intimacy, Untitled nevertheless shares formal qualities with Fratino’s Grapefruit Basket. The figures’ curved limbs and rigid surroundings frame the overall sense of anticipation in both works. Tom of Finland’s pioneering illustrations of homoerotic moments of affection have undoubtedly inspired later generations of queer artists. For Fratino, these moments hold value in their banality: “for me, my work is ultimately more about celebrating the everyday than it is about celebrating the spectacular or trying to find the spectacular in the everyday."ii

    i Christopher Bollen, “For Louis Fratino, Painting Offers a More Permanent Kind of Pleasure,” Interview Magazine, March 10, 2021, online.
    ii Louis Fratino, quoted in Joseph Akel, “Louis Fratino Discusses the New Age of Gay Culture,” L’Officiel, September 18, 2019, online.

    • Provenance

      Thierry Goldberg, New York
      Acquired from the above by the present owner

    • Exhibited

      New York, Thierry Goldberg, Louis Fratino: So, I’ve got you, September 10–October 8, 2017

    • Literature

      Eric Sutphin, "Louis Fratino," Art in America, October 24, 2017, online


Grapefruit Breakfast

signed, titled and dated ""GRAPEFRUIT BREAKFAST" 2017 Louis Fratino" on the reverse
oil and wax crayon on canvas
40 x 30 in. (101.6 x 76.2 cm)
Executed in 2017.

Full Cataloguing

$120,000 - 180,000 

Sold for $277,200

Contact Specialist

Avery Semjen
Head of Sale, New Now
212 940 1207

New Now

New York Auction 28 September 2022