Create your first list.

A way to share and manage lots.

  •  

    "Painting is a visual language where everything in the painting is meaningful, is important. It's coded."
    —Titus Kaphar

     

    Painted in 2013, Fade With Time is a spectacular embodiment of Titus Kaphar’s acclaimed oeuvre that re-examines the history of Black representation in the historical narrative. Showcasing the artist’s signature whitewash technique featured in his 2017 Ted Talk (see below), the present work looks to a 19th century photograph of John Wallace Comer—a Confederate lieutenant of the 57th Alabama Infantry and brother of future Alabama governor B. B. Comer—and his body servant Burrell. Inverting the protagonist through his leitmotif of presence and absence, Kaphar renders Comer a ghostly figure through slashing strokes over his countenance, whilst bestowing Burrell with a dignified posture and expression exuding gravitas. Teetering between invisibility and visibility, erasure and exposure, Fade With Time manifests Kaphar’s remarkable painterly virtuosity in reimagining hidden truths to amend overshadowed histories.

     

     

    John Wallace Comer, C.S.A. (Confederate States of America), with his servant, Burrell, 1860-1869. Alabama Department of Archives and History, Montgomery

    John Wallace Comer, C.S.A. (Confederate States of America), with his servant, Burrell, 1860-1869. Alabama Department of Archives and History, Montgomery

     

     

    During the Civil War, Black Confederate soldiers were often slaves brought into battle by members of slaveholding families enlisted in the Confederate Army. One of 61 slaves working on the Comer family plantation and just 16 years old, Burrell saved Comer’s life when he became injured during the Battle of Atlanta in 1864, carrying the wounded officer five miles to safety. Though Comer commended Burrell’s bravery, he maintained throughout the war that Burrell was not a true soldier due to the color of his skin. The photograph reflects not a comrade in arms but a master-servant relationship seen throughout the canonical tradition of portraiture. Whilst Comer confidently sits in uniform gripping his sword, Burrell is awkwardly posed with his hat in hand, wearing attire denoting his sub-status within the infantry regiment.

     

     

    William Hogarth, Captain Lord George Graham, (1715-47), in his Cabin, 1742-1744. National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, Great Britain, Image: Album / Art Resource, NY, Artwork: © National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London

    William Hogarth, Captain Lord George Graham, (1715-47), in his Cabin, 1742-1744. National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, Great Britain, Image: Album / Art Resource, NY

     

    "If we are not honest about our past, then we cannot have a clear direction towards our future." 
    —Titus Kaphar

     

    Throughout his celebrated practice, Kaphar employs deconstructive gestures such as shredding, cutting, and tarring to reconstruct new narratives through visual and conceptual force. Imbuing meaning into materiality, the artist mixes white pigment with linseed oil for his whitewash compositions. "The important thing to understand about whitewashing and painting and—in the way that I do it—is it's kind of temporary,” Kaphar elucidated. “The materials that I put inside of the paint, it becomes more translucent over time. As I'm whitewashing these figures, they're not permanently removed. I'm trying to shift the viewer's gaze for a moment.”i


     

     

     

    In Fade With Time, Kaphar at once upends traditional modes of Black representation in historical portraiture and alludes to the dialectical forces that shaped America’s legacy. The whitewash not only shifts our gaze to the redeemed Black figure, but also to the highly rendered sword presented in striking contrast to the effaced subject—a poignant reminder of history’s lingering impact. Depicting the finely rendered Black protagonist partially faded with his meekly delineated White counterpart, the composition could be read as Burrell’s erasure through Comer’s spectral presence, or Burrell’s duly respected presence through Comer’s erasure—presenting a striking palimpsest of a past that cannot be erased, but can be amended.

     

     

    Cut from the Archives

     

     

     

     

    Property from an Important European Collection, with a Portion of the Proceeds to Benefit an Artist’s Residency Program

     

    The present work arrives at auction in support of a unique philanthropic program that is dedicated to advancing the development of rising and mid-career artists through expanding networks and opportunities to promote cultural and artistic exchange.

     

     

    i Titus Kaphar, quoted in Maria Garcia and Zoë Mitchell, “Contemporary Artist Titus Kaphar On How Art Can Address Justice,” WBUR NPR Radio Boston, August 20, 2018, transcript.

    • Description

      The seller intends to donate the sale proceeds to a charity as designated in the heading. The buyer of this Lot should consult their individual attorneys to determine what, if any, tax benefit may be available to the buyer.

    • Provenance

      Jack Shainman Gallery, New York
      Acquired from the above by the present owner

    • 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.

       
      View More Works

Property from an Important European Collection, with a Portion of the Proceeds to Benefit an Artist’s Residency Program

5

Fade With Time

signed and dated "Kaphar 13" on the reverse
oil on canvas
87 5/8 x 61 1/8 in. (222.6 x 155.3 cm)
Painted in 2013.

Full Cataloguing

Estimate
$400,000 - 600,000 

Sold for $816,500

Contact Specialist

Amanda Lo Iacono
New York Head of Department & Head of Auctions
+1 212 940 1278
[email protected]

20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale

New York Auction 17 November 2021