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  • Provenance

    Galerie Max Hetzler, Berlin

  • Catalogue Essay

    “Richard Phillips' figurative oil paintings reflect on the faded appeal of idols and beauties no longer in the limelight or embroiled in scandal. His sources are culled primarily from magazines and ads dating between the sixties and the eighties. Standing in for the almost unqualified propagation of zeitgeist that shifted from the flower power of Hippies to the thoroughly commercialized sex appeal of bodies and goods, the apathetic gaze of models and stars evokes the collective memory of industrialized free love, shopping ecstasy, and stardom. Despite the eye-catching directness of the artist’s hyperrealism, an undercurrent of relentlessness is conveyed that immerses the obvious dreams and messages of the ‘American Way of Life’ in an irritating quagmire of contradictions and new meanings,” (B. Bürgi, “Innocence”, Richard Phillips, Zürich/Münich, 2000. p. 51).

    Inspired by pornography and sex ads from the period of America's sexual revolution, Richard Phillips has altered the focus from the main selling point, the body as a source of fantasy, in order to emphasize the psychology behind his style of portraiture. His model here bears a striking resemblance to pop star Britney Spears. Other celebrity portraits from Phillips include images of George Bush, Valentino and Kate Moss among other. Her expression in the eyes; the accidental moment of self-recognition where the model realizes that she is being captured by the photographer is the main interest for the artist. “Richard [Phillips] is alert to the scent of humanity beneath the veneer of anonymity,” (ibid, p. 60). In Lip-biter, this self-recognition is lacking with a mere blank expression in the eyes. The true sexuality is lost: the biting of the lip, the naked shoulder, her far off gaze do not hold enough power for the viewer to be enticed without the body. The portrait in itself is not enough to sell sex. We find ourselves in the pure idea of image, of false representation which nevertheless is perfectly rendered through Phillips’ hyperrealist style of painting.

9

Lippen Beißer (Lip-Biter)

1999
Oil on canvas.
48 x 43 1/2 in. (121.9 x 110.5 cm).
Signed, titled and dated “’Lippen Beisser’ Richard Phillips 1999” on the reverse.

Estimate
$80,000 - 120,000 

Sold for $384,000

Contemporary Art Part I

17 May 2007
7pm New York