Lucy Bull - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale New York Tuesday, November 15, 2022 | Phillips

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  • With Untitled, 2019, Lucy Bull draws her viewer into an emotional state through a combination of optics and time. The young, yet established Los Angeles painter plays in the contrasts and complements of color theory with vivid, acidic colors. Yellow and turquoise spiral against each other, while salmon pink stands out against its complement, cerulean, in a moment of “static buzz.”i The overall effect encourages the viewer into extended contemplation: with Bull’s work, the longer you look, the more you see. 
    "Film is probably what inspires me most. It’s my biggest hobby. It’s also my favorite thinking space. I love going to the movies and being in a crowd of strangers with the lights out, surrounded by color… Afterwards, I always have so many ideas—usually intangible sensations that I want to explore."
    —Lucy Bull
    In Untitled, the horizontal canvas, similar in shape to a wide-screen film in theaters, provides space for the viewer to look closely. A subtle band of yellow paint bordered in black runs through the center of the composition like a horizon line at eye-level, grounding the viewer as they run through kaleidoscopic spirals of bright turquoise, pink, white, acid green, cerulean, and glittering bronze. Bull’s colors and brushstrokes turn in on themselves, over and over, back and forth, extending time within the space of the canvas. Bull refers to this effect as a sort of “timed release”; just as the action of a film plays out over time, so do the visual effects of Untitled.ii “Time is everything,” Bull says. “I’ve always been jealous of filmmakers, who expect no one will leave the theater. When I’m painting, I’m always thinking about creating the same kind of psychic space that a movie does…”iii



    The shifting, swirling layers of shining oil paint reward an emotional, rather than analytical, response. “Every interpretation is valid,” Bull says, and though she compares her work to Rorschach tests, she discourages viewers from trying to assign a specific emotion or feeling to each of her works.iv Instead, she is interested in “channeling the ambiguous or the unknown… [i]t’s most exciting when [the paintings] stir a multitude of associations.”v


    Max Ernst, Halleluiah, 1948. The Art Institute of Chicago, Image: The Art Institute of Chicago / Art Resource, NY, Artwork: © ADAGP, Paris / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

    In this way, she calls on a legacy of Surrealist artists, such as Max Ernst, who let the processes of the unconscious mind guide their artistic practice. Surrealist painters let the paint, brush, and gesture lead the way, with as little conscious intervention as possible. Bull relates to this sentiment, strongly, citing Ernst’s experience of “being a spectator to the making of his own work” as akin to her painting

    With compositions like Untitled, the viewer is “invited to feel [their] way through an experience.”vii To feel one’s way through an artwork involves getting a little “lost in the sauce,” as Bull puts it, but that’s part of her creative process, too.viii  “They’re finished when I get lost,” she says, “when I lose track of how I made them.”ix


    Collector’s Digest


    • Phillips holds the world record for Bull’s work at auction; her painting 8:50, 2019, achieved nearly eight times the high estimate, realizing nearly 1.5 million USD in June of 2022.


    • Her work resides in numerous institutional collections, including MAMCO Geneva, The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, and The Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami, among others.


    Recent Solo and Group Exhibitions


    New York, David Kordansky Gallery, Piper, September 10 – October 15, 2022 (solo).


    Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Art Inspired by Music: Interscope Reimagined, January 30 – February 13, 2022.


    Shanghai, Pond Society, Lucy & Fengyi, January 8 – February 10, 2022.

    i Lucy Bull, quoted in John Garcia, “Getting Lost in the Brushstrokes: Lucy Bull Interviewed by John Garcia,” BOMB Magazine, April 26, 2021, online.
    ii Ibid.
    iii Lucy Bull, quoted in Kat Herriman, “Artist Lucy Bull Invites Others Into Her Cosmos,” Cultured Magazine, 2020, online.
    iv Lucy Bull, quoted in Stephanie Eckhardt, “In the Studio with Lucy Bull, the Painter Bringing Back Abstraction,” W Magazine, April 2, 2021, online.
    v Lucy Bull, quoted in Claudia Ross, “On Being Addicted to Your Work,” The Creative Independent, September 26, 2022, online.
    vi Lucy Bull, quoted in Garcia.
    vii Lucy Bull, quoted in Herriman, Cultured Magazine.
    viii Lucy Bull, quoted in Eckhardt.
    ix Lucy Bull, quoted in Kat Herriman, “Artist Lucy Bull Brings Her Color Vision to David Kordansky Gallery,” L’Officiel. October 18, 2021, online.

    • Provenance

      Smart Objects, Los Angeles
      Acquired from the above by the present owner

Property from a Distinguished Contemporary Collection



signed with the artist's initials and dated "LB 2019" on the reverse
oil on linen
22 x 72 in. (55.9 x 182.9 cm)
Painted in 2019.

Full Cataloguing

$100,000 - 150,000 

Sold for $478,800

Contact Specialist

Amanda Lo Iacono
Global Managing Director and Specialist, Head of Evening Sale, New York
+1 212 940 1278

Carolyn Mayer
Associate Specialist, Associate Head of Evening Sale, New York
+1 212 940 1206


20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale

New York Auction 15 November 2022