Yoshitomo Nara - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale Hong Kong Wednesday, July 8, 2020 | Phillips
  • Provenance

    Blum & Poe Gallery, Los Angeles
    Acquired from the above by the present owner

  • Exhibited

    London, Dairy Art Centre, Greeting from a Place in my Heart, 3 October - 14 December 2014

  • Literature

    NARA Yoshitomo: a bit like you and me…, exh. cat., Yokohama Museum of Art, Yokohama; Aomori Museum of Art; Aomori Contemporary Art Museum, Kumamoto, 2012, pp. 19, 21, 32-33 (another example illustrated)

  • Catalogue Essay

    Jizo Bosatsu (Kṣitigarbha)
    Heian period, 9th century
    Horyuji Great Treasure Gallery, Hōryū-ji, Ikaruga, Japan
    The powerhouse of the Japanese pop art movement of the 1990s, Yoshitomo Nara’s oeuvre has been defined by his recurring preoccupation with a return to the nascent - the notion of childhood innocence and its corresponding sentiments of memory, solitude and nostalgia all being focal to his work. As such it is only right to label his productions as cathartic, as in his own words “my work and I are…together as one” (Yoshitomo Nara, in Yoshitomo Nara: A bit like you and me…, Japan, 2012). Though this did not prevent a desire for autonomy within his pieces, especially in light of his rising success and popularity, his getting older and the catastrophic Japan earthquake of 2011. Indeed for some time he called the northeast of Japan his home, holding residence in the Tochigi prefecture bordering the Fukushima prefecture, areas devastated by the disaster and the subsequent Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster – a mere forty three miles from Nara’s studio. Born from this was a desire for permanency in an environment overrun with instability and uncertainty; a desire that brings us to our present lot, Miss Tannen, part of his series of bronze sculptures exhibited at his seminal 2012 exhibition, A bit like you and me, at the Yokohama Museum of Art.

    Alberto Giacometti
    Bust of Diego, 1955
    Unlike his instantly-recognisable portraits of menacing child-like figures, the work has a shy demeanor, one of quiet contemplation that echoes the spirituality seen in Buddhist sculpture, such as the seventh-century Kadura Kannon, and the serenity of Jizo sculptures. Fittingly this lot, as well as others in the same series, was cast in a Buddhist foundry Toyama, Japan. Through such experimentations with bronze, Nara is able to translate the emotional complexities present within his paintings into a more concrete medium, allowing for a lasting manifestation of these fleeting sentiments. As with his paintings, Nara does not use models for his sculptures, instead composing them via his entirely unique imagination in an unadulterated expression of his artistic ethos.

    Though this work is not without its own distinct personality. Standing at almost seven foot, Miss Tannen holds a commanding, yet not obtrusive presence. Not dissimilar to the techniques of Alberto Giacometti, the uneven surface of its conical hair bears the traces of the artist’s carvings which provides us with a visceral and tactile insight into his creative process, imbuing it with a sense of intimacy as Nara let himself “run wild while carving the piece, or clawing at it with my hands” (Nara, quoted by Chisato Uno in “Yoshitomo Nara long interview: paint for “what is being painted”, for Neppu, Japan, October 2017). Deservedly one of the most celebrated artists of his generation, Yoshitomo Nara has held solo exhibitions at some of the world’s foremost institutions, while also holding his work in their permanent collections. With Miss Tannen, Nara presents us with a striking example of his mature, refined style; a towering vehicle of self-reflection and exploration, which draws us into his own discourse between the physical and the invisible.

Property of an Important Private International Collector


Miss Tannen

sculpture: 213.5 x 48 x 38 cm. (84 x 18 7/8 x 14 7/8 in.)
stand: 76.3 x 59 x 59.1 cm. (30 x 23 1/4 x 23 1/4 in.)

Executed in 2012, this work is number 2 from an edition of 3.

HK$3,500,000 - 5,500,000 

Sold for HK$4,350,000

Contact Specialist

Charlotte Raybaud
Head of Evening Sale, 20th Century & Contemporary Art

+852 2318 2026


20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale

Hong Kong Auction 8 July 2020