Yoshitomo Nara - Modern & Contemporary Art Day Sale Hong Kong Saturday, June 1, 2024 | Phillips
  • In the mesmerising works of Yoshitomo Nara, a Japanese artist born in 1959 who has since come to be renowned worldwide as an artworld phenomenon, the focal point often rests on portrayals of young children with disproportionately large heads. These depictions of ‘Nara Girls’ intriguingly deviate from the playful innocence one would initially associate with portrayals of childhood, as Nara instead layers his work with a sharp edge of skepticism. 


    Sad Dog showcases this distinct approach— the child confronts us viewers with downturned, almond-shaped eyes that are narrow in defiance, with a snarl that disrupts what might have been a smile, and a pronounced scar that tales of past woes. This juxtaposition of intimidation and sorrow, further set against the unexpected innocence of puppy ears, echoes the complex duality in Nara’s work. It evokes a sense of a young, defiant spirit confronting a shadowy world, a nod to Nara’s own isolated upbringing. The addition of charming puppy ears accentuates the character's youthful innocence, drawing a connection to another recurring symbol in Nara’s work - the droopy-eared dog. This motif is a hallmark of Nara's artistic expression, notably epitomised by his large sculpture at the Aomori Museum of Art in Japan.



     Yoshitomo Nara, Aomori-ken, 2005
    Collection of the Aomori Museum of Art, Japan



    The present work was made in 1998, during one of the most significant periods of Nara’s output. Following the recommendation of the American artist Paul McCarthy, Nara was invited to serve as a visiting professor at the University of California, Los Angeles. During his tenure, he resided with Takashi Murakami, who had received the same invitation. In 1998, at request of Naoko Yamano from the Japanese female trio band, Shōnen Knife, Nara crafted drawings for their album, Happy Hour. He also held his first solo museum exhibition in the United States at the Institute of Visual Arts, University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee. Meanwhile in Japan, the Preparatory Committee for the Aomori Museum of Art, set to open in 2006 in Nara's hometown of Aomori Prefecture, began to acquire his work to add to their collection.

    • Provenance

      Tomio Koyama Gallery, Tokyo
      Private Collection
      Christie’s, New York, 21 September 2011, lot 45
      Private Collection
      SBI Art Auction, Tokyo, 20 June 2020, lot 296
      Acquired at the above sale by the present owner


Sad Dog

acrylic and pencil on paper
84 x 59.1 cm. (33 1/8 x 23 1/4 in.)
Executed in 1998, this work is registered in the Yoshitomo Nara Online Catalogue Raisonné under registration number YNF2365.

Full Cataloguing

HK$800,000 - 1,200,000 

Sold for HK$1,651,000

Contact Specialist

Anastasia Salnikoff
Associate Specialist, Head of Day Sale
+852 2318 2014

Modern & Contemporary Art Day Sale

Hong Kong Auction 1 June 2024