Nina Chanel Abney - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale London Thursday, June 27, 2019 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Maruani Mercier, Brussels
    Kravets Wehby, New York
    Private Collection, New York

  • Exhibited

    Roslyn Harbor, Nassau County Museum of Art, Eye of the Beholder - Contemporary Gallery, 10 January - 28 February 2010

  • Catalogue Essay

    The present work, Untitled, painted a year after Nina Chanel Abney's momentous MFA thesis show at Parsons School of Design in New York, is exemplary of the artist's ability to blend pop culture with social commentary. Exuding a heightened energy, every part of the canvas is teeming with jostling figures. Anonymous ghost-like bodies mingle with five figures at the forefront of the composition. The ghosts' hollow eyes disclose little about their emotional states. The nonchalance of the four figures to the right of the canvas is evident as Abney picks them out from the crowd. Standing confidently, their bodies facing directly towards us, their gazes averted from the viewer. In contrast, the woman to the left of the canvas is being pushed out of the frame. With her arms crossed and her back to the figures, she resists them, holding her ground defiantly in spite of the discomfort of her surroundings.

    ‘Easy to swallow, but hard to digest’, is how Nina Chanel Abney describes her brightly coloured depictions of the dark state of contemporary American race relations (the artist, quoted in ‘The Artsy Vanguard: Newly Established’, Artsy, 30 April 2018, online). Her progressive oeuvre was catapulted to the forefront of contemporary art after the attention garnered by her MFA thesis show, which consisted of a single work, Class of 2007. The diptych, Class of 2007, which reconfigured the artist as a white, blonde, blue-eyed armed prison guard and her MFA classmates as black prison inmates, was bought by the pioneering collectors Don and Mera Rubell based on a photograph of the piece. This work and three others by Abney from 2007 to 2008 were shown in 30 Americans, a show organised by the Rubell Family Collection which has toured to seventeen venues to date and showcased works of many important African American artists of the last three decades, including Barkley L. Hendricks, Jean-Michel Basquiat and Lorna Simpson. Abney's work has been recently celebrated at her solo museum exhibition, Nina Chanel Abney: Royal Flush, which was first presented in 2018 in Los Angeles and will conclude this year at the Neuberger Museum of Art, New York.



signed and dated 'Nina Chanel Abney 2008' on the overlap
acrylic on canvas
111.8 x 182.9 cm (44 x 72 in.)
Painted in 2008.

£50,000 - 70,000 

Sold for £75,000

Contact Specialist

Tamila Kerimova

Director, Specialist
Head of Day Sale
44 20 7318 4065

20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale

London Auction 28 June 2019