Phillips: Wrapped/Unwrapped Gift Guide

Keeping with the spirit of holiday wish lists, we asked Phillips and Artsy specialists and cataloguers which pieces from 'Wrapped/Unwrapped' they'd most like to give and receive this holiday season.

Kat Lukacher

Associate Specialist, 20th Century & Contemporary Art, Phillips

Kat, which piece in the sale would you gift and to whom?

I would give Alice Mackler’s Untitled to Rebekah Bowling, a fellow specialist at Phillips and Co-Head of the 20th Century and Contemporary Day Sale. She has a very unique collection of ceramic works, and I think this piece would fit perfectly in her collection.

Alice Mackler has been creating artwork since the 1950s and has recently begun to garner art-world-acclaim with her inclusion in a 2013 James Fuentes group exhibition, which Roberta Smith reviewed in The New York Times, commenting that, "An especially strong impression is made by Alice Mackler, an 81-year-old painter who, after a stroke, turned to making small figures, faces and vessels in roughly formed, brightly glazed clay. Ms. Mackler has a gift for color and texture and for conveying human pomposity."

Which piece in the sale would you most like to keep for yourself, and why?

I would like to keep Summer Wheat’s Human Popsicle—it presents the kind of thick impasto and loaded coloration of Francis Bacon. Her anonymous portraits, as she herself explains, are "sensual, disturbing, ugly but beautiful."

Jason Osborne

Cataloguer, Editions, Phillips

Jason, which piece in the sale would you gift and to whom?

I would love to gift Alex Katz’s Impatiens linocut on Okawara paper to a mature Frédéric Chopin. I see a lovely cross-century conversation between Katz's imagery of light—stark flowers hanging or falling through heavy inked darkness—and Chopin's deceptively airy Nocturnes. I've always had specific imagery associated with Chopin's Nocturnes, which Katz illustrated here perfectly, if unintentionally. (You're welcome, Frédéric!)

Which piece in the sale would you most like to keep for yourself, and why?

Given the chance, I would stuff William S. Burroughs’ portfolio The Seven Deadly Sins into my own stocking (carefully). Not only are these seven woodcuts with color screenprinting a lot of bang for your buck, in terms of their size and imagery, but the woodcut elements were created by the artist shooting wood blocks with a 12-gauge shotgun. I can imagine having a delightfully sinful holiday morning unwrapping these while sipping a bourbon-spiked eggnog.

Becca Starr

Associate Director, Auctions, Artsy

Becca, which piece in the sale would you gift and to whom?

I would gift Julian Opie’s View from my Hotel Room, 2008 to my parents. I love video art, and this video and mixed media work is a great entree into contemporary art as it's very aesthetically approachable. Both my parents work very hard, and this view reminds me of their home in Cape Code, which has always been the one place they are able to relax. I'd like to get them as close to that view as often as possible; and this way, I could go visit it too.

Which piece in the sale would you most like to keep for yourself, and why?

If I could keep a work for myself, it would definitely be Artie Vierkant's Air filter and method of constructing the same 29 (Antoine). This work is from Vierkant's Exploits series, which explores issues with intellectual property, patents and negotiation. I actually went to college with Artie and was friendly with him, as we had classes together in the multidisciplinary Visual Studies program at Penn. We exchanged a few pieces then, and I've always regretted not holding onto them!

Olivia Kasmin

Cataloguer, 20th Century & Contemporary Art, Phillips

Olivia, which piece in the sale would you gift and to whom?

I would love to give Louise Bourgeois’ Toi et moi to my mother. The printed phrase, the scale of the piece and the tactile nature of the fabric all imbue the work with a very intimate and charmingly domestic quality. Fabric has been an important part of Bourgeois' life since childhood when she worked in her parent's tapestry restoration workshop, and it has been an integral part of her artistic practice since the 1990s. As my mother is always trying to give me tablecloths, napkins and bedlinens, which she seems to believe is her maternal duty, this acutely personal and playful work would be a very appropriate gift.

Which piece in the sale would you most like to keep for yourself, and why?

I would be more than happy to hang George Henry Longly’s Tell the Truth in my apartment. I love the juxtaposition of the art-historically-traditional marble with the flashy-yet-mundane YSL "Touche Éclat" pens. This piece features Longly's signature snake emblem carved in the center, which often accompanies his initials and acts as further branding for his work. Beyond his commentary on consumerism, the title of this work (which can be 'uncoded' in the floating letters) feels particularly relevant.

Maiya Aiba

Administrator, New Now, Phillips

Maiya, which piece in the sale would you gift and to whom?

I know my sister would love Wayne Thiebaud's Six Italian Desserts, from Recent Etchings II. The work is sentimental, playful and sweet, echoing her own attributes. While she definitely prefers frozen yogurt, this work is the perfect guilt-free treat!

Which piece in the sale would you most like to keep for yourself, and why?

I would typically defer to Tom Wesselmann as my go-to; however, I just moved into a new apartment and Rob Pruitt's Studio Loveseat would be the ideal addition of art and furniture. The multitude of illustrations and phrases that combine the profane with childhood and teenage favorites including Sesame Street, Alice in Wonderland, Star Wars and The Pink Panther make it quite the statement piece.

Erin Kim

Collector Relations Manager, Artsy

Erin, which piece in the sale would you gift and to whom?

I would love to gift Pink Days by Louise Bourgeois to a close friend who just became a mother only a few months ago. Louise Bourgeois' works are centered around the themes of motherhood, family and the passage of time; in exploring these themes, she has repeatedly alluded to this idea of "pink days," referring to the protective shell that the artist's mother enveloped her with as a child. It was a period of happiness and protective tranquility that only her own mother could provide.

I thought it would be an appropriate gift for a friend who is incredibly patient, resourceful and protective — someone I know who will be the kind of mother that will give her own child this memory of tranquil "pink days."

Which piece in the sale would you most like to keep for yourself, and why?

Louise Bourgeois' Couples would be the top pick for myself, not only because she's one of the most recognizable figures in modern and contemporary art but because the image itself is so wonderful. The women look fabulous with their red heels and extravagant hair. Most importantly, they look so happy.

This imagery is known to be related to a performance piece that Bourgeois executed in 1992. She created a 178-foot long banner that was tightly wrapped around a single male figure. Other performers would slowly unwrap and rewrap a man and woman embracing. During this act of wrapping and unwrapping, the text "She Lost It" would become visible to the audience. Throughout Bourgeois' life, the artist harbored an anxiety about holding onto the ones she loved. The more I get to know her work, and the more I learn about the artist's life and process, a new layer of meaning is revealed.

Dakota Peschel

Administrator, Editions, Phillips

Dakota, which piece in the sale would you gift and to whom?

I would give my mother John McAllister’s Seas Softly Darkening Darkening. This painting is something that I can envision her hanging in our living room, and it would replace the fake painting she bought from Amazon as a placeholder. My mother adores anything purple, and this painting would match her knitting tote bag in a quilted purple floral pattern.

Which piece in the sale would you most like to keep for yourself, and why?

If I had the option, I would keep the Louise Bourgeois Toi et Moi screenprint on woven fabric. The work is powerful in its simplicity. I have always had a strong appreciation for Bourgeois and feel cosmically connected to her because we are both severe Capricorns.

Melanie Borinstein

Auctions Manager, Artsy

Melanie, which piece in the sale would you gift and to whom?

I would love to gift Matt Johnson's Paper Ice Cream Cone (upside down) to my mom. She has a wonderful collection of food-related art that has deceived many visitors at our house — most are quite disappointed to find that the glistening donut has a ceramic glaze instead of a sugary one. She loves artists who play with the juxtaposition of material and subject matter, and I think this piece would be the perfect addition.

Which piece in the sale would you most like to keep for yourself, and why?

I would definitely keep Louise Lawler's Untitled (Mao/Lichtenstein). Her unusual framing of these two works makes the photograph a fantastic exploration of texture; I love how the carpeted wall becomes just as visually engaging as the strokes of paint in Warhol's Mao or the bold graphics of the framed Lichtenstein ornament. By placing these works in context, Lawler not only presents a slice of the art world but also allows her viewers to look for visual parallels across the picture plane—rather than seeing each work in isolation.

Bidding on these and more works from 'Wrapped/Unwrapped' is open on Artsy through Thursday 14 December at 8pm EST.