Specialist Picks from Public Art Fund 2019 Benefit Auction

Artsy Auctions
Apr 1, 2019 9:51PM

Artsy is proud to partner with Public Art Fund (PAF) on their spring benefit & auction for the sixth year in a row. Fueling PAF’s mission to bring meaningful exhibitions to the urban landscape, this benefit auction also provides a rare opportunity to bid on lots by some of the same contemporary artists mounting large scale installations across New York. Through their sale, you can directly contribute to PAF’s production of engaging public art initiatives across New York’s five boroughs.

To help guide your search, we asked specialists from Artsy to share their favorite pieces in the sale. From Tauba Auerbach’s data-driven Ligature Drawing to Ai Wei Wei’s protest fueled Brain Inflation on Plate, these works represent some of the biggest names and most exciting trends in contemporary art—and are open for bidding until April 11th.

Ai Weiwei

Very few contemporary artists have encouraged cultural discourse like so-called “dissident” Ai Weiwei. In 2017, his striking collaboration with Public Art Fund, “Good Fences make Good Neighbours”, left a mark in all 5 boroughs of New York City by drawing attention to the international migration crisis. The artist returns to support Public Art Fund for their Spring 2019 Benefit by donating Brain Inflation on Plate, two plates (2012). The provocative, conceptual work features a reproduction of an MRI scan of Ai’s brain, taken after the artist underwent a brutal beating by the Chinese police in 2009. After a devastating earthquake claimed thousands of lives in Sichuan, China, Ai traveled to the province to support the work of artist and activist Tan Zuoren, who had been investigating the role of government corruption in the poor construction of public buildings such as schools, hospitals, and factories in the area. For this research, Tan was accused with “inciting subversion of state power”. A month after his detainment, Ai suffered a brain hemorrhage and was hospitalized in Germany. Ai shared the MRI scan of his brain with the public, the image gained viral popularity and was even printed on T-shirts for a charitable cause. In the words of Nicholas Baume, PAF’s Director and Chief Curator, “Ai Weiwei is unique in having combined the roles of preeminent contemporary artist, political dissident, and human rights activist in such a prominent and powerful way.” Brain Inflation is a standout example of Ai’s influence and activism, showcasing a critical moment in his personal history.

Eleonora Leo

Carmen Herrera

This summer Public Art Fund will debut “Carmen Herrera: Estructuras Monumentales,” the first major exhibition of outdoor sculpture from the Cuban-born, New York-based artist. It’s the next in a seemingly long line of phenomenon presentations of Herrera’s work: the 2016 blockbuster show “Carmen Herrera: Lines of Sight” at the Whitney Museum (later traveling domestically and internationally) presented many of her works for the first time within the museum context; Alison Klayman’s critically acclaimed documentary “The 100 Years Show,” ran at New York’s Film Forum (it’s now on Netflix); and last fall, “Estructuras” at Lisson Gallery highlighted Herrera’s 3D explorations, foreshadowing PAF’s upcoming exhibition. With Herrera, it’s easy to succumb to recency bias and forget that only within the last decade have major institutions and the art market started to celebrate her work—yet her signature hard-edged, geometric abstraction has been well-honed over an art-making career spanning more than half a century!

Harnessing a sense of order and serenity, the beautiful intaglio print, Equilibrio (2017), featured in this year’s benefit auction underscores Herrera’s mastery of the geometric form. The unique painting from which the multiple is based, Equilibrio (2012), is currently on display in “Epic Abstraction: Pollock to Herrera” at the Met Breur. The composition and utilization of black and white (which in turn can be read as light and shadow), the Met notes, reflects the influences of the seventeenth-century Spanish Baroque period and painter Francisco de Zurbarán on Herrera. Powerful in the simplicity of form and palette, Equilibrio (2017) is both exemplary of the 103 year-old’s long practice and undoubtedly a noteworthy lot in Public Art Fund’s always beautifully curated benefit auction.

Liz Luna

Harold Ancart

Harold Ancart has broken into the art world with as much passion and fervor as is displayed in his vivid and visceral artworks. Hailing from Belgium, the now Brooklyn-based artist has made a career out of transforming his own idiosyncratic experiences - including a road trip through the United States, a fascination with handball courts, and mounting anxiety around climate change - into artworks that intrinsically move the viewer. Untitled, 2018, is just such a piece, combining Ancart’s signature jagged abstraction with a muted pastel palette in a delicate and synchronistic way typical of his skill. Not only is the composition striking as a whole, but the care and emotion imbued into each element becomes a focal point on its own, particularly the semi-obstructed turquoise swatch that remained in my mind long after I had stopped looking at the canvas.

In addition to his contribution for their benefit auction, the Public Art Fund has commissioned Ancart, known both for his sculptural work and colorful abstract paintings, to create a public work for Downtown Brooklyn’s Cadman Plaza Park. Subliminal Standard, a painted, playable handball court “merging contemporary art and recreational sport to create an engaging and inclusive experience” will be on view in the park from May 1, 2019 - March 1, 2020 (Public Art Fund).

Sarah Shelburne

Yinka Shonibare CBE

After spending his childhood between Nigeria and England, Yinka Shonibare settled in London in the 1980’s to attend art school. Shonibare’s work often reflects this multi-cultural environment and explores the representation and themes of identity, migration, travel and diversity. For over 25 years, Shonibare’s work has used Dutch wax batic fabrics, a material that itself spans many cultures. Originally produced in the Netherlands in the 1800’s mimicking Javanese designs, Dutch wax batic fabrics were created with the intention of being sold in Indonesia. Instead, these fabrics became much more popular in West Africa and have now become synonymous to their culture.

Although made of carbon fiber and steel, Wind Sculpture V Maquette is a wonderful example of the artist’s attempt to capture the effects and movement of wind on such fabrics while retaining the metaphors of diversity, migration and travel.As Shonibare’s Wind Sculptures are usually outdoors and of monumental scale, this is truly a unique opportunity to own a maquette-sized version of this strong and powerful work.

Agnieszka Perche

Sarah Sze

While Sarah Sze is best known for her sprawling installation and sculptural pieces, this compelling print included in the Public Art Fund benefit auction allows bidders the chance to own a two-dimensional version of her work that can be easily hung on any collector’s wall. Lot 39, titled Point for Point, comprehensively displays the strengths and characteristics of Sze’s highly regarded oeuvre, and is undeniably reminiscent of her 2013 solo pavilion at the Venice Biennale, Triple Point. Creating the impression of a three dimensional atmosphere, similar to her installations, the collage-like components of this print draw the viewer into the fabricated space of juxtaposing natural and man-made components. The lines, silhouettes, and hues are individually captivating, as the numerous layers simultaneously show Sze’s ability to merge, or “collect,” a variety of mundane elements and seamlessly blend them into an intricate, cohesive artwork. The intriguing visuals and esteemed career of Sze make Point for Point a stand-out lot in the Public Art Fund benefit auction.

Danielle Adler

Tauba Auerbach

In Flow Separation, a 2018 commission for Public Art Fund, on view through May 12, 2019, Tauba Auerbach transformed the historic Fireboat John J. Harvey into a contemporary “dazzle” ship, drawing upon the science of fluid dynamics to radically change the appearance of the New York-anchored boat. Auerbach’s practice is based upon the manipulation of structures and systems of representation and logic, and the present work takes the basic element of the line and stretches it to its capacity. The Ligature Drawings as a series are both calligraphic and quantitative, functioning as a sort of cathartic, data-driven exercise in writing. Ligature Drawing, 21 February 2019 is the perfect continuation of this relationship between Public Art Fund and Auberbach, the red flows of this specific work evoke the fluid dynamics of Flow Separation, almost creating a site/non-site relation between the two works.

Thomas Cole Baron

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