Larger Than Life Artists to Collect for Your Apartment

Artsy Auctions
Sep 30, 2016 3:16PM

"Rago Auctions: Urban Living" exhibits pieces by artists who are conscious of their metropolitan environment, specifically the spatial limitations of city life. The works are testaments to city living’s impact on artistic scale and how a metropolis’s immensity and density demand exhibitive creativity from its artists. With pieces ranging from skyscrapers to subway statuettes, urban artists expand and contract their works to fit any exhibition space that the city offers. Here, Rago Auctions and Artsy have curated a selection of works that communicate between the urban landscape and the domestic interior.

Louise Nevelson has been making splashes in the New York art scene since her first solo exhibition in 1941. As if her work doesn’t speak for itself, Nevelson has a part of Manhattan named after her — aptly titled Louise Nevelson Plaza. Showcasing some of her largest sculptures to passersby in the Financial District, Louise Nevelson Plaza physically embeds her work into the New York cityscape. The impact of Nevelson on the New York art scene is soon to resurface with Laurie Wilson’s biography on the female sculptor, Louise Nevelson: Light and Shadow, debuting this fall. 

Neckface first came to the public fore as a high school student in Northern California. Tagging the streets and public fixtures with his stickers, the artist began to make a name, or, rather, a nomme-de-plume for himself. After moving his art to New York galleries, Neckface’s origins in street art are still clearly visible. Maintaining his scrawly style, the anonymous artist critiques contemporary society with his cartoonish, devilish subjects. 

Helmut Newton has earned himself the epithet the “King of Kink” for bringing unabashed nudity and sexuality to the fashion world. With his photos hitting the pages of Vogue for decades, his penchant for sexuality has continually pushed the boundaries of photography, fashion, and advertising. In Marilyn Grabowski, Playboy (1993), the photo’s namesake sits adorned with one of her female subjects. As the photo editor of Playboy for over four decades, Grabowksi brought fashion to kink, just as Newton was bringing kink to the fashion world. In this polaroid, the two aesthetic geniuses and tastemakers meet halfway, at the crossroads they had been paving for their entire careers. 

Yue Minjun is best known as a member of the Cynical Realist movement, which refers to Chinese artists in the 1980s and 1990s who were engaging with China’s burgeoning expansion with the West, industry, and urbanization. Yue Minjun’s artwork is satirical and existential. Many of his pieces depict hysterically laughing men with maniacally large smiles. Superimposing these men on nondescript, non-geographical locations, Minjun often models their poses off of famous works of Western and Chinese art. Their uniformity across canvases evokes communist cultural control, while their personable laughter humanizes and begs for individuation. "Urban Living" features Smile-ism No. 12 (2006), where Minjun utilizes his classic laughing man, who appears to be both oblivious and critical of his surrounding predicament. 

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