Noel W. Anderson - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale, Afternoon Session New York Tuesday, May 16, 2023 | Phillips

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  • The following is an excerpt from Brian Boucher’s 2020 interview with Noel W. Anderson discussing the artist's work with tapestries.


    Brian Boucher: A statement from your gallery says that your works on view at the fair “attempt to locate an elusive black essence.” We could talk about that for a whole day, but first off, tell me a little bit about that search.


    Noel W. Anderson: It started with going to the Metropolitan Museum of Art on Fridays, when it’s open late. Fifteen years ago nobody knew it was open late, and I would go to the medieval wing and stare at tapestries. It was often just me and the gallery attendant. And I realized those works are the origin of photography and of screen culture. Each thread is data that tried to replicate reality. Then I did some research into Joseph Marie Jacquard and his invention of punch-hole registration for weaving, which Charles Babbage picked up after the French Revolution and created the grandfather of the computer. And I realized every time we’re looking at a screen, we’re looking at a weaving.


    When I was a boy, we had a television with rabbit ears. The image was wobbling, and I would mess around with the rabbit ears to stabilize the image. Then I realized I could play with it more and re-distort the image. I later paired that to tapestries, which are the invention of screen culture. So realized that every image I see on screen is also a distortion and it’s not real.


    So I kept saying that the images I saw were not real. There must be some origin to that image that correlates to black people. So the weavings that I do are trying to locate the real experience behind the image. That aligns with philosophy and theoretical concerns about representation, about reality versus representation.


    So when I do the weavings I’m trying to encounter how we understand the history of image-making. It’s part of my concern with trying to find an essence of blackness, even though essentialism is how we get racism. I’m still trying to encounter or approach or arrive at something I know I can’t arrive at, but I keep trying.


    Click here to read the full interview.

    • Provenance

      Acquired directly from the artist by the present owner

    • Exhibited

      Dubai, Zidoun-Bossuyt Gallery, Group Show, March 8–April 23, 2022


Can I Get a Witness

signed with the artist's initials "NWA" on the overlap; further signed with the artist's initials and dated "NWA 2019" on the stretcher
magazine pages on distressed, stretched Jacquard tapestry
65 x 43 in. (165.1 x 109.2 cm)
Executed in 2019.

Full Cataloguing

$30,000 - 50,000 

Sold for $101,600

Contact Specialist

Patrizia Koenig
Specialist, Head of Sale, Afternoon Session
+1 212 940 1279

20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale, Afternoon Session

New York Auction 16 May 2023