Michael Kagan - New Now London Thursday, April 28, 2022 | Phillips

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  • 'There’s a weaving of strokes, but it was something that just kind of happened naturally […] I like that when I see other painters that I admire, whether Jonas Wood, Luc Tuymans, Richter or Christopher Wool, there’s this flow to their work, but there’s this organic progression of how it evolves.' —Michael Kagan

    Painted in 2017, K2 presents an isolated mountain scape exemplifying Michael Kagan’s expressive oil paintings. Straddling figuration and abstraction, the short and thick brushstrokes are characteristic of the artist’s exploration of nature and its relationship to mountaineers and astronauts. Through these scenes, he pushes the emotional boundaries of his viewers, confronting them with images and sensations associated with the sublime. In the present work, a monumental mountain covered in white snow is partially obstructed - yet this circumscribed view sharpens our focus on the mountain’s jagged textures set against a dark blue sky. The artist comments, ‘I like that my paintings have that play because one of my favourite painters is Tuymans, and I love how his works are just quick reads, just like a snapshot. So I’ll use the analogy of how, at a crowded opening, when you’re just kind of peaking over people to see the paintings, you can immediately get what it is. You don’t have to walk up close. You’ll just get the image.’i


    Gerhard Richter, January, 1989, 1989, Saint Louis Art Museum, Missouri. Image and Artwork: © Gerhard Richter 2022 (0075)


    If the influence of Luc Tuymans can be seen in snapshots of Kagan’s narratives, the technical aspect of his work can be attributed to Gerhard Richter, whose signatory squeegee method can be traced here in Kagan’s use of smaller, textured sections of abstract brush marks that cohere in the construction of the image. A familiar motif of the artist’s, K2 recalls Kagan’s earliest use of Mount Everest as a subject in 2016. Essential to Kagan’s body of work, themes from this series and its relationship to the sublime were developed in the artist’s first major museum show, I Was There When It Happened, held at the Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art in 2019. 


    Born in Virginia himself, Kagan now lives and works in Brooklyn, New York. He received his MFA from the New York Academy of Art in 2005 and his works are part of notable international collections such as the Hall Collection, Reading; Maezawa Collection, Chiba; Maki collection, Tokyo; and the Gemini Trust Company, New York, amongst others. In addition to his first major exhibition at the Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art, Kagan has also participated in special projects including a collaboration with Pharrell, a commission from The Smithsonian, and an album cover for The White Lies album, Big TV which was awarded an Art Vinyl award for Best Art Vinyl, 2013. Most recently the artist has been celebrated with a solo show, How We Remember, hosted by Almine Rech in Brussels in 2021. His next solo show, It Lasts Forever, opens at Almine Rech in London on 25th May.

    i Michael Kagan, interview with Sasha Bogojev, ‘Michael Kagan: Trust the Universe’, Juxtapoz, online

    • Provenance

      Acquired directly from the artist by the present owner



signed and dated 'Michael Kagan 2017' on the reverse
oil on linen
183.1 x 137.4 cm (72 1/8 x 54 1/8 in.)
Painted in 2017.

Full Cataloguing

£30,000 - 50,000 

Sold for £50,400

Contact Specialist

Charlotte Gibbs
Associate Specialist, Head of New Now
+44 20 7901 7993

New Now

London Auction 28 April 2022