Titus Kaphar - New Now New York Wednesday, September 30, 2020 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Friedman Benda, New York
    Private collection, Switzerland (acquired from the above)

  • Catalogue Essay

    A scorched and hauntingly stoic portrait, Titus Kaphar’s Study of the Suitor: Harper Caldwell Jr., 2011, upends conventional understandings of historical representation and exposes the inherent artificiality of all forms of depiction. By endowing a historical portrait of a fictitious individual with an apparently credible identity, Kaphar encourages the viewer to speculate about the lived experience and exploits of the imagined subject and emphasizes the disconnect between what we see and what we perceive to be true, dislodging the seemingly incontrovertible fictions of the past from our understandings of history in the present. The work’s title implies the existence a torrid romantic relationship which in fact is completely of the artist’s creation but which nevertheless engages the viewer’s appetite for intrigue, real or imagined.

    Accordingly, Kaphar relishes the opportunities fictionalized representation gives the contemporary subject to consider about the shades of fact in contrived depictions which we hold to be true; articulating his practice to Eloise Blondiau for Interview Magazine, Kaphar praised the “certain freedom” he gives himself to “really explore and ask myself questions. What might not have been understood at that time? What might have been hidden at that time? What narrative in this particular image wasn’t the primary image, but is really important?” (Titus Kaphar, quoted in Eloise Blondiau, “Amending American History with Titus Kaphar” in Interview Magazine, December 19, 2016, online).

  • Artist Biography

    Titus Kaphar

    Titus Kaphar’s work questions the nature of history and its representations in the past and today. By altering the materiality of his paintings, sculptures, and installations, Kaphar subverts conventional understandings of historical representations and exposes the uncomfortable and troubling realities of the racism in America’s past. Kaphar’s examinations of historical representations and the omissions of such representations encourage viewers to question their own relationships to history and understandings of the past. He strives to dislodge history from the past and to promote its relevance in the world today. 

    Kaphar’s work has received considerable acclaim, and his paintings have graced two covers of Time magazine. He is the recipient of a 2018 MacArthur Fellowship and his work is represented in such institutions as the Brooklyn Museum, the Museum of Modern Art, New York, the Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, and the Perez Art Museum Miami. He lives and works in New Haven, Connecticut.

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Study of the Suitor: Harper Caldwell Jr.

signed and dated "Kaphar 11" on the reverse
tar on canvas
48 x 36 in. (121.9 x 91.4 cm)
Executed in 2011.

$30,000 - 50,000 

Sold for $187,500

Contact Specialist

Sam Mansour
Associate Specialist, Head of New Now Sale
New York
+1 212 940 1219

New Now

New York Auction 30 September 2020