Shara Hughes - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale New York Wednesday, November 17, 2021 | Phillips

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    "I think that nature reflects emotions in so many ways. Beauty, pain, peace, sadness can all be seen in one day with the passing of time or with a weather pattern. Nature is constantly changing, you will never see the same flower twice in the exact same way."
    —Shara Hughes


    Oscillating between abstraction and figuration, the imaginary and the actual, Shara Hughes’Inside Outside, 2018 is from a series of landscapes the artist undertook in 2014. After years of devoting her practice to highly representational and detailed interiors, this series marked a shift by the artist into a more “instinctual” or “spontaneous” painting philosophy.


    After a visit to the artist’s studio in 2018, former MoMA curator Mia Locks commented: “These works begin with no particular idea in mind—no title, no roadmap. Instead, she starts by making aimless marks on a blank canvas, without any preconceived notion of what they will become. Pouring, splashing, spraying, dripping, churning, or scraping—there are innumerable physical actions Hughes might use as she negotiates form through paint. Her initial mindset is open; she lets herself play.”i Locks’ observations of Hughes’ psychological approach to painting are poignantly evidenced in Inside Outside.




    [left] Wassily Kandinsky, Landscape with Two Poplars, 1912. Art Institute of Chicago, Image: The Art Institute of Chicago / Art Resource, NY, Artwork: © 2021 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/ADAGP [right] Lee Krasner, The Seasons, 1957. Whitney Museum of American Art, Image: © Whitney Museum of American Art / Licensed by Scala / Art Resource, NY, Artwork: © 2021 Pollock-Krasner Foundation / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York



    In electrifying hues of vermilion, orange and green, a fantastic landscape unfolds before us. In the background, our vision is drawn towards a strip of color in pastel tones of coral and lavender—a path leading into a distant horizon. Solid swaths of paint in rich forest greens, stunning reds and deep blue evidence the artist walking a fine line between figurative vegetation and scenery, expressionist force and physical action. These elements in Hughes’ work evoke both the process and energy of Lee Krasner and Joan Mitchell, while at the same time, echoing the tension first explored in the paintings of Wassily Kandinsky, the father of modern abstraction.


    In Inside Outside, the vista seems to reveal itself from an intimate perspective, framed in the work’s foreground with what could ostensibly be classified as an enclosure of brambly branches, rendered in equally sharp brushstrokes of earth, vibrant teal and green tints. The viewer seems to observe the painting through our “hideout” behind the foliage—much like the painting’s title implies. Hughes often frames her landscapes to endow them with this very accessible viewpoint: “I want anyone to be able to enter in them," she declared. Locks further elaborates, “Hughes wants us to feel these spaces as she does, to spend time in them and understand a little about the psychic struggles that have produced them.”ii




    David Hockney, Mulholland Drive: The Road to the Studio, 1980. Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Image: Richard Schmidt, Artwork: © David Hockney



    Indeed, working directly from her imagination, avoiding all physical reference points and premature planning, has afforded Hughes a new-found freedom in her work which is indisputable in her landscapes in general, and the current work in particular. Her virtuosity is in lending not only psychological accessibility but also a distinctly contemporary and fresh feel to a long-standing, art-historical tradition of landscape paintings: “Landscapes opened a whole new world for me, one that was awesome and exciting […] There’s something very open-ended about the idea of a landscape that appeals to me too. All landscapes are constantly changing, whether it’s the time of day or the temperature or the weather patterns and things growing and dying. The constant state of change created so much possibility.”iii



    i Mia Locks, “Working Tension: On Shara Hughes’s Landscapes,” Shara Hughes / Landscapes, New York, 2019, p. 11.
    ii Ibid., p. 10.
    iii Shara Hughes quoted in Katie White, “Art World,” Artnet News, August 17, 2020, online

    • Provenance

      Galerie Eva Presenhuber, Zurich
      Acquired from the above by the present owner

    • Literature

      Shara Hughes, Shara Hughes: Landscapes, New York, 2019, p. 15 (illustrated, p. 14)

    • Artist Biography

      Shara Hughes

      Shara Hughes (b. 1981) earned a BFA from the Rhode Island School of Design and later attended the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture. She currently lives and works in Brooklyn, NY. 

      The artist is best known for her colorful landscapes which bridge a gap between the real and the imagined, and the beautiful and the chaotic. Working intuitively, the artist does not typically pre-plan her canvases. Rather her process involves giving form and shape to her previously applied brushstrokes and reacting to her last applications of paint and color through more painting. 

      Hughes has participated in numerous group exhibitions, at venues such as FLAG Art Foundation, NY (2023); ICA Miami (2022); De la Cruz Collection (2022); Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Humlebæk (2021); Dallas Art Museum, Dallas (2019); MASS MoCA, North Adams (2018); and the High Museum of Art, Atlanta, GA (2015). The artist was also included in the 2017 Whitney Biennial at the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY. Hughes’ work belongs to many prominent museum collections including the Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas, TX; the Denver Museum of Art, Denver, CO; the High Museum of Art, Atlanta, GA; the Jorge M. Perez Collection, Miami, FL; the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY; the Museum of Contemporary Art of Georgia, Atlanta, GA; the M Woods Museum, Beijing, China; the Phoenix Art Museum, Phoenix, AZ; the Rachofsky Collection, Dallas, TX; the Saint Louis Art Museum, St. Louis, MO; the Si Shang Art Museum, Beijing, China; the Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, D.C.; and the Whitney Museum of Art, New York, NY; among others. Hughes lives and works in Brooklyn, NY.

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Property of a Sophisticated European Collector


Inside Outside

signed, titled, inscribed and dated ""Inside Outside" SHARA HUGHES 2018 NYC" on the reverse
oil and acrylic on canvas
77 7/8 x 65 7/8 in. (198 x 167.5 cm)
Painted in 2018.

Full Cataloguing

$250,000 - 350,000 

Sold for $1,482,000

Contact Specialist

Amanda Lo Iacono
New York Head of Department & Head of Auctions
+1 212 940 1278

20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale

New York Auction 17 November 2021