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Art Market

10 Standout Auction Lots on Artsy This Week: July 22, 2021

Cornelia Smith and Beatrice Sapsford
Jul 22, 2021 7:59PM

In this series, Artsy’s Curatorial and Editorial teams offer a look at the auction lots we’re currently watching on Artsy. This selection includes hidden gems, popular works with the most bids, and promising lots from the latest auctions. Browse all of the auctions on Artsy, including lots by artists you follow, here.


Cassi Namoda, Lurdes, Vania, & Maria on Sunday in Quelimane town (2021)

In the past year, Cassi Namoda has garnered more and more well-deserved attention from critics and collectors alike. And that momentum has only continued since a record-breaking sale at auction in March, in which her painting Princess Elizabeth Bagaya of Toro (2021) sold for more than four times its high estimate. The New York–based Mozambican artist’s paintings are most often figurative, portraying scenes of everyday life in post-colonial Mozambique. Bids for Lurdes, Vania, & Maria on Sunday in Quelimane town—featured in UN Women’s “A Force for Change” benefit auction—have already surpassed the work’s estimate and are expected to continue to climb.

Browse available works by Cassi Namoda.


Alvin Armstrong, Something That You Left (2021)

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Alvin Armstrong has swiftly established himself within the contemporary art scene. The New York–based artist recently had his second-ever solo exhibition, “To Give and Take,” at Anna Zorina Gallery, and was recently selected as an artist in residence at Pioneer Works in Brooklyn. Despite only starting to paint in 2018, Armstrong has developed a distinct style that imbues his minimal figurative paintings with captivating depth. Something That You Left has already exceeded its estimate and remains available in the 2021 ARTNOIR benefit auction from $5,500.

Browse available works by Alvin Armstrong.


Lauren Pearce, Tangerine (2021)

This painting by Cleveland-based artist Lauren Pearce has accrued 10 bids thus far in the ARTNOIR benefit auction, significantly surpassing its estimated value of $2,000. In this portrait, the central figure in the work wears a checkered top in orange and brown hues that dissolve into the tangerine background. The face is rendered in great detail, eyes gazing intently at the viewer. Pearce regularly uses this technique—creating detailed faces against more muted, color-blocked bodies and backdrops—in her portraiture as a way to pull the viewer in, drawing attention to the subject.

Browse available works by Lauren Pearce.


Rufai Zakari, Black, Bald and Proud II (2021)

Made entirely of single-use plastic, Black, Bald and Proud II is a shining example of Rufai Zakari’s practice of upcycling discarded material into works of art. After collecting plastic from the streets of Ghana, Zakari designs a pattern, then stitches pieces together to create portraits of Ghanaian women. This work, available in the ARTNOIR benefit auction with a starting bid of $10,000, explores themes of climate change and urban pollution through a beautiful yet startling mode of creative expression.

Browse available works by Rufai Zakari.


Retna, Aaliyah (Queen of the Damned) (2010)

Retna’s tribute to the late R&B singer Aaliyah departs from the artist’s signature works featuring his own script. For this work, the artist painted over a movie poster for the 2002 horror film Queen of the Damned, which starred Aaliyah, covering her torso and the background with a swirl of glowing, rainbow brushstrokes. A striking portrait of the gone-too-soon star, Aaliyah (Queen of the Damned) is a unique piece by Retna that is now available in Heritage’s “Urban Art” auction from $24,000.

Browse available works by Retna.


Cindy Sherman, Untitled (Self Portrait with Sun Tan) (2003)

A key figure in contemporary photography, Cindy Sherman has pushed the bounds of self-portraiture for over four decades. Her feminist critiques of stereotypes surrounding women throughout history are both incisive and playful. From dressing up as a “sexy librarian,” bored housewife, and docile candy striper to enacting sexual and grotesque scenes with mannequin parts, Sherman continues to generate dialogue relevant to our cultural zeitgeist. Untitled (Self Portrait with Sun Tan) is now available in the Hindman’s “Stepping Into Tomorrow” auction, with a starting bid of $1,000.

Browse available works by Cindy Sherman.


Amy Sillman, Prize (1997)

This large-scale painting by Amy Sillman, available with a starting bid of $7,500 in Hindman’s “Stepping Into Tomorrow” auction, differs slightly from much of her other work with its thin, gentle lines and figuration. Known for her abstract work, Sillman often paints broad swathes of color in thick impasto; she has described her artmaking as a “physical thinking process,” in which she translates feelings and ideas through gesture.

Browse available works by Amy Sillman.


Yue Minjun, Smile-ism (Complete Set of 28) (2006)

Yue Minjun’s Smile-ism, a complete set of 28 color lithographs, is a stunning, albeit unsettling, body of work that is typical of the artist’s exaggerated style. Part of the Cynical Realist movement, Yue has been an influential figure in China’s contemporary art scene. He is known for his recurring self-portrait: a figure of a man laughing theatrically, his smile uncomfortably wide no matter the setting. Smile-ism (Complete Set of 28) has a starting bid of $50,000 in the Artsy x Rago / Wright “Post-War and Contemporary” auction.

Browse available works by Yue Minjun.


Esther Mahlangu, Abstract (2019)

Celebrated South African artist Esther Mahlangu continues the tradition of Ndebele painting through her masterful abstract artworks. Her bold, geometric compositions are rich in color and contrast with crisp shapes and black linework. Abstract, now available with a starting bid of $10,000 in UN Women’s “A Force for Change” benefit auction, is one example of Mahlangu’s command over painting that has garnered an international following and inspired collaborations with major brands such as BMW and Rolls-Royce.

Browse available works by Esther Mahlangu.


Virginia Chihota, Bhai bhai dhirezi handikanganwe – Bye bye dress I cannot forget (2018)

This stunning, multilayered screenprint by Virginia Chihota depicts a female figure set against a haunting yet alluring backdrop. Chihota, who draws inspiration from her own experiences as well as observations of marginalized individuals within her community, creates expressive prints that often combine ink with hand-painted elements. Bhai bhai dhirezi handikanganwe – Bye bye dress I cannot forget is currently available from $20,700 in UN Women’s “A Force for Change” benefit auction.

Browse available works by Virginia Chihota.

Cornelia Smith
Beatrice Sapsford
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Jenna Gribbon, Luncheon on the grass, a recurring dream, 2020. Jenna Gribbon, April studio, parting glance, 2021. Jenna Gribbon, Silver Tongue, 2019