Hot Lots: 7 Artworks That Spectacularly Outperformed Expectations During New York’s Spring 2022 Day Sales

Marquee evening sales may get the most attention, but day sales can be a far more reliable indicator of the state of the art market. While these workmanlike auctions may not deliver the eye-popping sums of their nocturnal siblings, they offer substantial insight not only into the current state of play, but also where the business is headed—and which artists and bodies of work are attracting notice.

The Artnet News Pro team combed through the results from the marathon day sales at Phillips, Sotheby’s, and Christie’s in New York last week to bring you seven highlights that shattered expectations—and demand your attention.

Ángeles Agrela
Tilda (2020)

Auction: Phillips 20th Century Art & Contemporary Day Sale, May 19

Estimate: $10,000–$15,000

Sold for: $113,400

The Spain-born, Granada-based artist, born in 1966, is best known for creating portraits of women with hair as the focal point. To date, according to the Artnet Price Database, roughly half a dozen of her works have come to auction—with uneven results. This price, $113,400, is the highest. Another work, Retrato n° 66 (2015), fetched $56,700—almost 10 times its $6,000 high estimate—at Phillips’s “New Now” sale  this past March. The auction house’s vice president Rebekah Bowling said more than 20 international bidders were actively pursuing this work. The attention, she said, “can be attributed to her works’ stylistic affinity with Surrealism and a general interest we’re seeing in female Surrealist artists right now.” The artist is represented by Galería Yusto/Giner in Marbella. 

Eileen Kinsella

Peter Bradley
Milkwood (1973)

Peter Bradley, Milkwood (1973). Courtesy of Sotheby's.

Peter Bradley, Milkwood (1973). Courtesy of Sotheby’s.

Auction: Sotheby’s, Contemporary Day Auction, May 20

Estimate: $40,000–$60,000

Sold for: $327,600

The painting represents a personal auction high for Peter Bradley, whose career is resurging after decades in obscurity. The 81-year-old, who had a successful career as a dealer, artist, and curator in the 1970s, began showing again with market-making dealer Karma in New York last year. In September, his solo exhibition will inaugurate the gallery’s Los Angeles expansion. Outspoken and eccentric, the artist lives in Saugerties, New York, painting in a shipping container. While the market has been laser focused on figurative work, Bradley’s love for abstraction runs deep. He’s shown with André Emmerich gallery and curated “The De Luxe Show,” a seminal racially integrated exhibition in Houston, at the request of John and Dominique de Menil. It opened in 1971 and included works by Kenneth Noland, Sam Gilliam, Anthony Caro, and Ed Clark. 

Katya Kazakina

Erik Parker
Far Out (2020)

Erik Parker, Far Out (2020). Courtesy of Sotheby's.

Erik Parker, Far Out (2020). Courtesy of Sotheby’s.

Auction: Sotheby’s, Contemporary Day Auction, May 20

Estimate: $25,000–$35,000

Sold for: $378,000

The psychedelic pyramid-shaped canvas established a new auction record for Parker, whose hallucinatory portraits and landscapes are inspired by underground comic books, street art, and painters like Chicago Imagist Christina Ramberg as well as Phillip Guston, Peter Saul, and Jim Nutt.

“These pyramid paintings that he makes are super desirable,” said Todd Kramer, co-owner of Ross + Kramer gallery, which works with the artist in New York. Parker started making them about 10 years ago. While many are large, Far Out is on a domestic scale, which might have boosted the price. A larger pyramid painting, Big Time (2020), is heading to Christie’s Hong Kong on May 27.

“The recent spike in demand is coming from China,” Kramer said. Parker’s work fits right into the demand for illustrative, graffiti-based aesthetics. He’s shown with Taka Ishii Gallery in Tokyo in the early 2000s and is now working with by Over the Influence gallery, with branches in Los Angeles and Hong Kong. There’s a retrospective around the corner, opening at CAC Malaga in Spain on June 24.

Katya Kazakina

Jason Boyd Kinsella
Thaws (2020)

Jason Boyd Kinsella, Thaws (2020). Image courtesy Phillips.

Auction: Phillips 20th Century Art & Contemporary Day Sale May 19

Estimate: $7,000–$10,000

Sold for: $441,000

More than 30 active bidders fought for this work by the Canadian artist, who returned to painting in 2019 after a 30-year hiatus. Sharp demand—especially from Asia—pushed the final price to more than 40 times its high estimate. 

Kinsella, who worked in the advertising world before returning to fine art, has developed a style of hard-edge portraiture based on his fascination with the Myers-Briggs personality test. His work looks like George Condo merged with the smooth surfaces of an Old Master.

Kinsella, who is represented by Unit London, just wrapped a solo show at Perrotin in Paris and has work at the gallery’s Art Basel Hong Kong stand. His collectors include Alan Lau and the Azman Museum in Malaysia.

Eileen Kinsella

Jordy Kerwick
Untitled (2021)

Jordy Kerwick, Untitled, 2021. Courtesy of Phillips.

Auction: Phillips 20th Century Art & Contemporary Day Sale, May 19

Estimate: $20,000–$30,000

Sold for: $239,400

Jordy Kerwick, who paints of fantastical lions, dragons, and other animals, has had a notably lucrative auction season. Across all three houses, work by the 40-year-old self-taught artist racked up sales that commanded prices as much as ten times their estimates. This untitled work—made with charcoal and spray-paint of a zebra rug with a tiger’s head—set a new record for the artist and changed hands fast, coming from Antwerp’s Everyday Gallery just last year. 

The artist took up painting to cope with the stress of his day job and started selling his work on Instagram for £100 in 2015 and 2016, according to the Telegraph. He barely had an auction presence until last fall—but since March, no fewer than 16 of his works have hit the block. Kerwick is now represented in the collections of hedge-funder Steve Cohen, K-pop star T.O.P., and luxury magnate Bernard Arnault, the Telegraph reports. Up next is a solo show with Vito Schnabel in Los Angeles.

Annie Armstrong

Lynne Drexler
Herbert’s Garden (1960)

Lynne Drexler, Herbert’s Garden (1960). Photo: Christie’s.

Auction: Christie’s Post-War and Contemporary Art Day Sale, May 13

Estimate: $70,000–$100,000

Sold for: $1,500,000

The Maine-based artist worked tirelessly from her studio in Monhegan, Maine, selling art to tourists for as little as $50. When she died in obscurity in 1999, she left behind piles of canvases. More than 20 years later, her market has taken off. 

During an off-season auction this spring, Christie’s sold a Drexler painting that was deaccessioned by Maine’s Farnsworth Art Museum for $1.2 million—20 times its high estimate. With that, it was off to the races. Another Drexler from the Farnsworth fetched a record $1.5 million last week, going to a buyer in Asia. The painting had never changed hands before; it was a gift from the artist’s estate to the museum in 2022. 

Drexler’s flourishing, colorful abstractions are now sought after by the likes of Chrissy Teigen and John Legend, who have one hanging in their home. The gallery LGDR has also gotten on the bandwagon and is showing work by Drexler at Art Basel Hong Kong. 

Annie Armstrong

Louise Nevelson
Rain Forest Column XXI (1962–64)

Louise Nevelson, Rain Forest Column XXI (1962-1964). Image courtesy Phillips.

Louise Nevelson, Rain Forest Column XXI (1962-1964). Image courtesy Phillips.

Auction: Phillips, 20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale, May 19

Estimate: $100,000–$150,000

Sold for: $630,000

Nevelson, who created monochromatic wood sculptures from box-like structures, is considered one of the most important postwar artists—but her market has only recently begun to catch up. 

This work sold for more than four times its upper estimate, a result that can partly be explained by renewed awareness of Nevelson’s legacy. She is included in Cecilia Alemani’s exhibition “The Milk of Dreams” at the Venice Biennale (where, 60 years earlier, she represented the United States), and is also the subject of an official collateral exhibition at the Procuratie Vecchie. Her auction record was set last May when the sculpture Floating Cloud VII sold for $1.4 million at Christie’s New York.

Rain Forest Column XXI comes from a later series, created after Nevelson traveled to Guatemala and Mexico to study pre-Colombian art. These “are some of the artist’s most prized sculptures, unique for their totem structure,” Annie Dolan, Phillips’s day sale head, told Artnet News. Works from the series are also represented in the collections of the Whitney and the Walker Art Center.

Naomi Rea

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