Philip Taaffe - 20th Century & Contemporary Art: Online Auction New York Tuesday, September 26, 2023 | Phillips

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  • Philip Taaffe’s art occupies a unique position at the intersection of an array of sources. Blending elements from the work of modern artists like Barnett Newman with motifs found in Byzantine and Islamic art, Taaffe creates works that challenge temporality. The juxtaposing nature of these works illuminate both the similarities and differences of Taaffe’s sources of inspiration simultaneously, emanating a sense of liminality.


    In Rosette, 1987, Taaffe captures the monumentality and spirituality of a stained-glass church window. The 10-foot diameter painting takes the form of the titular style of window and adopts its hallmark vibrant color palette. However, Taaffe subverts the segmented rigidity of stained glass with his gradient transitions between colors. Rather than adhering to the color-blocking inherent to the glass process, Taaffe embraces the fluidity made possible by paint.


    Beginning with the deep purple of the outer edges, the work becomes progressively lighter towards its center, an almost stark-white circle. The soft gradation of the colors and subtle variations in the surface of the work give the impression of sun rays shining through the window. Taaffe has asserted the importance of illumination in his work, saying “as for light, painting is primarily about capturing it which is critical to the power of a work. Light is the crux of the matter.”i


    The sense of realism derived from Taaffe’s use of light is further reinforced by the size of the work. The painting’s 10-foot diameter effectively captures the monumentality and grandeur of its inspiration. The stunning nature of Rosette caught the attention of Gianni Versace, who acquired this work to be displayed at the Versace Fifth Avenue flagship store in New York, where it remained for many years before coming up for auction.



    i Philip Taaffe, quoted in Paul Laster, “Philip Taaffe Interview: Painting is About Capturing Light,” TimeOut, January 13, 2015, online.

    • Provenance

      Gagosian Gallery
      Private Collection, United Kingdom (acquired from the above in 1989)
      Collection of Gianni Versace
      Thence by descent to the present owner

    • Exhibited

      Dallas, Gerald Peters Gallery, Philip Taaffe, 1993
      Miami, Center for the Fine Arts, Philip Taaffe, April 2–June 20, 1993

    • Literature

      Roberta Smith, "Art: Michael Lekakis," The New York Times, March 27, 1987, Section C, p. 24

Property from the Collection of Gianni Versace



signed, titled and dated "P. Taaffe 1987 ROSETTE" on the reverse
mixed media on canvas
120 in. (304.8 cm) diameter
Executed in 1987.

Full Cataloguing

$30,000 - 50,000 

Sold for $63,500

Contact Specialist

Katerina Blackwood
Associate Specialist, Head of Online Sales, New York
20th Century & Contemporary Art
T +1 212 940 1248

20th Century & Contemporary Art: Online Auction

26 September - 5 October 2023