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  • Painted in 2011, just two years before Lynette Yiadom-Boakye's nomination for the Turner Prize, Casework highlights the artist’s masterful approach to portraiture. By placing her subjects in dark, nondescript spaces, Yiadom-Boakye centers the focus on the painting’s highest point of contrast: where the eyes of the subject meet the viewers’. The themes of looking and watching are central to the artist’s work and contribute to her status as a forerunner in contemporary portraiture.


    The figure in Casework is depicted straight-on, gracefully accepting the gaze of the viewer, and is consumed by a gestural black backdrop. “Black women watching, without necessarily intervening, possibly out of detachment, possibly with judgment—keeping their own counsel, as is their right.” Yiadom-Boakye comments, “to be all-seeing and all-knowing and yet elsewhere altogether. Much like the divine.”1 By distilling images found in publications and her own imagination, Yiadom-Boakye portrays fictitious subjects, amplified by the dream-like quality of anonymous settings. However, there is an undeniable nostalgia in the artist’s work, as if the figure is a familiar face.

     

    "Maybe I think more about black thought than black bodies. When people ask about the aspect of race in the work, they are looking for very simple or easy answers. Part of it is when you think other people are so different than yourself, you imagine that their thoughts aren’t the same. When I think about thought, I think about how much there is that is common."
    —Lynette Yiadom-Boakye

    As the first Black woman to have been nominated for the Turner prize and to have the solo exhibition at the Tate Modern, Yiadom-Boakye has solidified her standing as one of the most important creators today. Often stylistically compared to Caspar David Friedrich and other Romantic painters, Yiadom-Boakye ultimately centers the individual in her work. Her ability to portray figures with passion and familiarity recalls the emotion and imagination of Romanticism. However, Yiadom-Boakye's removal of any narrative between the character and their surroundings reveals how distinct her body of work is from that of her predecessors. The subtle aura surrounding the figure in Casework adds to the painting’s divine quality, walking the line between surreal and real. 


    1 Lynette Yiadom-Boakye, quoted in “’Nightwatch: A Conversation with Lynette Yiadom-Boakye,"’ Artforum, May 17, 2021, online.

    • Provenance

      Jack Shainman Gallery, New York
      Acquired from the above by the present owner

    • Exhibited

      New York, New Museum, The Ungovernables: New Museum Triennial, February 15–April 22, 2012

    • Artist Biography

      Lynette Yiadom-Boakye

      British • 1977

      Lynette Yiadom-Boakye is a British painter who is a leader in the contemporary renaissance of portraiture. Her subjects are typically depicted with loose brushwork, floating against muted, ambiguous backgrounds that contribute to a sense of timelessness. Known for the speed of her work, she often completes a canvas in a single day and considers the physical properties of paint to be at the core of her practice. 

      Yiadom-Boakye was born to Ghanaian parents in London, where she continues to live and work today. In 2013, she was a finalist for the Turner Prize and she was selected for participation in the 55th Venice Biennale. In 2018, the artist won the Carnegie Prize for painting. Her work can be found in the permanent collections at the Victoria & Albert Museum, the Studio Museum and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, among many others. 

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Casework

signed with the artist's initials, titled and dated "LYB 2011 Casework" on the reverse
oil on canvas
17 7/8 x 16 in. (45.4 x 40.6 cm)
Painted in 2011.

Full Cataloguing

Estimate
$80,000 - 120,000 

Sold for $428,400

Contact Specialist

Rebekah Bowling
Head of Day Sale, Afternoon Session, New York
1 212 940 1250
[email protected]

20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale - Afternoon Session

New York Auction 18 November 2021