31 October 2019

Phillips’ Hong Kong Fall Sales of 20th Century & Contemporary Art & Design
to Feature Exceptional Works by Jean-Michel Basquiat, Gerhard Richter,
Zao Wou-Ki, Zeng Fanzhi, and Liu Ye


Marking the Highest Estimate for a 20th Century & Contemporary Art & Design Auction Series in Asia in Company History

Works by Established International Artists to be Offered in the Day Sale to Benefit
Hong Kong Contemporary Art (HOCA) Foundation


Evening Sale: 24 November, 6 pm HKT | Day Sale: 25 November 10:30 am HKT

Hong Kong Public Exhibition: 22-24 November 
JW Marriott Hong Kong

HONG KONG – 31 OCTOBER 2019 – Phillips’ upcoming Hong Kong Sales of 20th Century & Contemporary Art & Design will feature an exceptional selection of Modern, Post-War, and Contemporary artworks. The Evening Sale, taking place on 24 November, will offer masterworks by leading Modern and Contemporary artists, including Jean-Michel Basquiat, Gerhard Richter, Zao Wou-Ki, Zeng Fanzhi, and Liu Ye. The Day Sale on 25 November will feature 10 exceptional pieces especially created by artists that capture the spirit of our time, to be sold to benefit Hong Kong Contemporary Art (HOCA) Foundation. Works by a group of young and emerging artists, including Nicolas Party, Jonathan Lyndon Chase, and Genieve Figgis, will also be offered in the Day Sale. As forerunners in curating cross-category sales, Phillips will offer iconic design items by Finn Juhl, Jacob Kjær and Kaare Klint. Together, the 20th Century & Contemporary Art & Design Auction Series comprises 148 lots, estimated in excess of HK$ 234 million/ US$ 30 million, the highest ever pre-sale estimate for an auction series for Phillips in Asia. Meanwhile, Phillips will continue its Pantone Series with “Pantone 405-C by Robert Cheng”, following the project’s success this past spring.


Jonathan Crockett, Head of 20th Century & Contemporary Art, and Deputy Chairman, Asia and Isaure de Viel Castel, Head of 20th Century & Contemporary Art, Hong Kong, jointly said: “Our November Sales of 20th Century & Contemporary Art & Design are highlighted by an outstanding line-up of Western Contemporary Art, from works by established artists including Jean-Michel Basquiat, Gerhard Richter, KAWS, and George Condo, to artists who are new to the secondary market in Asia, such as Joyce Pensato and Jonathan Lyndon Chase. Cementing Phillips’ commitment to broadening our selection and presenting the most globally sought-after works in our Asian sales, we are also honoured to offer exceptional examples by important Chinese Modern and Contemporary artists, an impressive collection of sculptures by leading Japanese artists, an array of abstract pieces by Western and Eastern artists, and an exciting selection of artworks that incorporate graffiti and street art elements.” 


Exceptional Works by Leading Western Artists (Evening Sale)

The Evening Sale presents Jean-Michel Basquiat’s Thermopolae, created in the later years of Basquiat’s brief but intense artistic career. Thermopolae is in many ways an anti-painting, a subversive semi-autobiographical masterpiece that draws on Western historical narratives and Classical mythological roots, but upturns accepted moral, spiritual, political meanings to speak passionately about life, death, love, virtue, and justice in postwar America, particularly amongst the Afro-American community and other marginalised bodies. Thermopolae is a reference to the Battle of Thermopylae in 480 BC, fought between the doomed Greeks and invading Persians at the narrow coastal pass of Thermopylae (in Latin, "the hot gates"). In the hands of Basquiat’s wordplay, the title of the battle becomes bastardised - “a little heat”, rather than the most famous military last stand of Western civilisation.


Rendered in deep shades of purple and red in vertical and horizontal striations, Abstraktes Bild (715-6) is a particularly beautiful example of German visual artist Gerhard Richter’s best-known series of Abstrakte Bilder, and has been included in major institutional retrospectives of Richter’s oeuvre. Streaked with undulating monochrome streaks and fiery elements of golden-yellow periodically exposed through the disfigured paint layers, the artist revisited a favourite personal challenge of unifying bright colors with his more usually muted, melancholy colour palette. Gerhard Richter is widely considered “the greatest modern painter” and one of the most influential living artists today. Known particularly for his powerful abstract works, the enigmatic Richter has been compared by art historians and critics to artists as diverse as Johannes Vermeer and Pablo Picasso.

Chinese Modern and Contemporary Masterworks (Evening Sale)

A strong selection of Chinese Modern and Contemporary works will be offered in the Evening Sale, led by Zao Wou-Ki’s 29.05-31.10.68. In the present work, Zao’s vigorous brushwork illustrates the battle between the four elements: fire, earth, air and water. To balance this epic encounter, the painting is divided into three horizontal bands which give a sense of stability to the central swirling composition. If the 1950s were associated with the Oracle Bones period and the appearance of signs in Zao’s works, in the 1960s his work grew increasingly abstract and vibrant. Another masterwork to be presented in the Evening Sale is Chu Teh-Chun’s No.164. In this work, Chu’s choice of colours captures his control of balance and depth in an intricate game of texture, alternating ink-like washes of deep blue and green with saturated hues of bright red outlined by solid black lines. The artist successfully diluted oil paints to create the visual effect of thin ink-like washes, whilst containing them to allow negative space. With canvas as a basis and oil as a medium, Chu perfectly translates a milestone of Chinese tradition into the most Western expression.


Mask Series No. 1 hails from Zeng Fanzhi’s most celebrated iconography and it was the first Mask piece that was created by the artist in the year of 1996, a year that is considered a mature apex in the artist’s mastery of his most famous subject. In the present lot, a pair of figures are centrally placed against a nebulous ochre background—a hue typical of the Mask works from the mid-1990s. Dated 1995, She Isn’t Afraid of Mondrian is painted on one of the largest canvases that Liu Ye used in the 1990s. According to the artist, it alludes to an artistic debate which arose between his then-partner and himself. A direct response to Barnett Newman’s Who’s Afraid of Red, Yellow and Blue works and recalling their vandalism (and their later restoration), the present painting evokes the themes of conflict but also subsequent reconciliation and repair. Featuring a self-portrait, She Isn’t Afraid of Mondrian is a masterpiece that represents Liu’s ability and prowess as a gifted painter to draw from a rich background of sources: the light effects inspired by Rembrandt and Hopper, the homage to Mondrian’s Broadway Boogie-Woogie (MoMA) and to the Virgin Mary portrait from Max Ernst which Liu had admired whilst a student in Cologne. 


Important Japanese Sculptural Works (Evening Sale)

This season, Phillips will present a stunning selection of sculptural works by the most influential Japanese contemporary artists, including Yayoi Kusama, Yoshitomo Nara, and Takashi Murakami. One of the leading highlights is Yayoi Kusama’s Six Guests, which is part of the Accumulations sculptures started in the early years of the artist’s installation in New York. Consisting of cast-off pieces of furniture covered with phallic protuberances of stuffed cloth, they represent the conversion of the over-abundant, repetitive motive of her Infinity Net paintings into sculptures in which she can pose and merge. In this work, Kusama also presents the image of a matriarchal family dinner, with six guests gathered around a flower-laden table. A direct allusion to her childhood spent on her parents’ seed farm, it also alludes to memories of her own abusive mother who had passed away two years before. Extremely personal, cathartic and feminist, Six Guests is an important work to provide insight and understanding into the artist’s psyche.


Created in 2005, Takashi Murakami’s Cherries was executed the same year as the artist’s flourishing collaboration with Marc Jacobs for Louis Vuitton. The long-snouted white puppy with floppy ears is amongst Yoshitomo Nara’s most beloved characters. Its outwardly innocent form encapsulates a deeply held set of emotions spanning childhood memories, spirituality, and loneliness. Representative of the prolific Japanese artist’s style, Nara’s prototype relates to audiences of all ages while possessing strong spiritual and autobiographical qualities.


Street Art Across Evening and Day Sales

Building on Phillips’ successful street art exhibitions across Hong Kong, Taipei, New York and London, the November sales will offer a breadth of works by a series of in-demand international artists associated with street art and graffiti. The Evening Sale will feature MADSAKI’s Untitled, one of the works from the artist’s Character Series, which was created after his return to Japan, and speaks to the disorienting experiences between two cultures that formed his aesthetics and personality. Post-punk artist Joyce Pensato’s Donald will be featured in the Day Sale, the first time the artist’s works have come to auction in Asia. With unruly, exuberant brushwork, the famous Disney character is re-imagined in ominous black enamel against a stark white background. It is a compelling example of the eerie reinterpretations of pop culture icons that became hallmarks of Pensato’s practice. 



As part of the 20th Century & Contemporary Art & Design Hong Kong Day Sale, Phillips is delighted to present a unique charity component to the sale in partnership with the non-profit organisation Hong Kong Contemporary Art (HOCA) Foundation, which is based on the phenomenon of street art as a movement that represents a significant cultural turning point in the last few years. This section of the sale will feature 10 works generously donated by 8 established international artists, including Futura, José Parlá, Daniel Arsham and Cleon Peterson. The proceeds of these works will be redirected to HOCA's future initiatives, helping the Foundation to democratise art and enrich the cultural life of Hong Kong.


Works by Young and Emerging Artists (Day Sale)

As Phillips Hong Kong’s 20th Century & Contemporary Art & Design Day Sale continues to grow, and gain popularity amongst a younger generation of collectors, an exciting selection of works by young and emerging artists, including Genieve Figgis and Nicolas Party, and for the first time in Asia, Jonathan Lyndon Chase, will be presented this season.


Iconic Design & Pantone 405-C by Robert Cheng (Day Sale)

Phillips continues to lead the market in introducing the very best of 20th Century Design to Asia. The works of Danish, Italian and American Design saw a 100% sell-through rate last season. Included in the Day Sale this fall is a distinguished selection of iconic pieces from Finn Juhl, and for the first time in Asia, Jacob Kjær and Kaare Klint. As part of Phillips’ ongoing Pantone project for the Hong Kong pre-sale exhibition, the company will partner with the Hong Kong & Singapore-based architect and designer Robert Cheng in “Pantone 405-C by Robert Cheng”. Cheng is the Principal of Brewin Design Office, an award-winning architecture and interior design firm specialising in elegant, refined and highly bespoke design for residential, hospitality and cultural projects in the region. He will be given a designated space at the Hong Kong preview at JW Marriott, to curate a selection of furniture and artworks from the Day Sale, matching the space painted in his chosen pantone colour.


Phillips Hong Kong 20th Century & Contemporary Art & Design Fall Sales 2019

Preview: 22-24 November, 10am-6pm HKT

Evening Sale: Sunday, 24 November, 6pm HKT

Click here for more information.

Day Sale: Monday, 25 November, 10:30am HKT

Click here for more information.

Location: JW Marriott, 88 Queensway, Admiralty, Hong Kong



Phillips is a leading global platform for buying and selling 20th and 21st century art and design. With dedicated expertise in the areas of 20th Century and Contemporary Art, Design, Photographs, Editions, Watches, and Jewelry, Phillips offers professional services and advice on all aspects of collecting. Auctions and exhibitions are held at salerooms in New York, London, Geneva, and Hong Kong, while clients are further served through representative offices based throughout Europe, the United States and Asia. Phillips also offers an online auction platform accessible anywhere in the world.  In addition to providing selling and buying opportunities through auction, Phillips brokers private sales and offers assistance with appraisals, valuations, and other financial services.

Visit www.phillips.com for further information.

*Estimates do not include buyer’s premium; prices achieved include the hammer price plus buyer’s premium.

PRESS CONTACTS:             

HONG KONG – Ingrid Hsu, Public Relations Director, Asia  IngridHsu@phillips.com   +852 2318 2043

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