Marina Abramović - Photographs New York Tuesday, October 1, 2019 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Lia Rumma Gallery, Naples, 2007

  • Literature

    ARTnews, December 2009, cover, p. 95
    PaperCity, December 2017, pp. 77, 81 (installation images, this print)

  • Catalogue Essay

    “The moment I first stood in front of the public, …I understood that was the only thing I want to do in life.”

    For over four decades, the self-proclaimed ‘Grandmother of performance art,’ Marina Abramović, has vigorously devoted her life to executing commanding performances; each one manifested with a bespoke depth of tone and feeling – and many reflective of pivotal personal moments from Abramović’s life.

    The photograph on offer is a still from her 2004 performance, Cleaning the Floor, and eloquently eternalizes a palpable moment long after the performance’s conclusion. Cleaning the Floor embodies the exploration of femininity and domesticity that became more visible in her later work. Abramović noted that early in her career she felt the need to prove herself and to substantiate the work. In Lovers: The Great Wall Walk performance in 1988, Abramović and fellow performance artist and collaborator Ulay, began on opposite ends of the Great Wall of China and walked towards each other for 90 days, the performance culminating with them meeting in the middle and ending their twelve-year relationship. Following that project, the closure and independence she felt marked a turning point in her career where she was emboldened to entwine and explore femininity in her work, 'After I finish this Chinese Wall I didn’t need to prove to anybody anything anymore. That was a really turning point for me. . .' Indeed, if Lovers marked the end of one chapter of her career, Cleaning the Floor marks the apex of yet another; a performance that speaks to the inherent contradictions in what is expected of women. They must look the part of the screen siren while performing the chores of the domestic servant.

    Abramović’s ever-evolving work continues to be at the forefront of the art world. This image from Cleaning the Floor was featured on the cover of ARTnews ‘The Feminist Evolution’ December 2009 issue in celebration of her highly anticipated performance The Artist is Present which debuted alongside a retrospective of her work at the Museum of Modern Art, New York in 2010. Another retrospective opened in 2018 at the Bundeskunsthalle Museum in Germany. Images and videos of Abramović’s work are held in private and public institutions worldwide. She has been awarded the Golden Lion for Best Artist at the Venice Biennale among many honors. This work has been privately held since it was purchased in 2005 and it is the first time this image is appearing at auction.


Cleaning the Floor

Chromogenic print, flush-mounted.
51 1/4 x 39 1/8 in. (130.2 x 99.4 cm)
Overall 68 1/8 x 56 3/8 in. (173 x 143.2 cm)

Signed and dated in ink, printed title, date and number 2/5 on a Certificate of Authenticity accompanying the work.

$60,000 - 80,000 

Sold for $75,000

Contact Specialist

Sarah Krueger
Head of Department, Photographs

Vanessa Hallett
Worldwide Head of Photographs and Deputy Chairwoman, Americas

General Enquiries
+1 212 940 1245


New York Auction 1 October 2019