Art Market

9 Standout Lots from Planned Parenthood’s Choice Works Benefit Auction

Kaylie Felsberg
Nov 19, 2021 6:52PM

This past September, the state of Texas enacted the most restrictive abortion ban currently in effect in the United States. The law, Senate Bill 8, prohibits abortions as early as six weeks into the pregnancy—a time period in which most women are unware they are even pregnant. The state’s sweeping legislation also makes no exceptions for people who are victims of rape or incest. The bill is part of a national agenda to end access to abortion across the U.S., including the landmark case Roe v. Wade, which the Supreme Court could possibly overturn—triggering bans in 26 states to go into effect within months.

In response to these extreme developments, Planned Parenthood has launched “Choice Works,” an emergency benefit auction, now live on Artsy, with a corresponding event to take place during Art Basel in Miami Beach on December 2nd. The auction, which closes December 7th, features artworks donated directly by leading contemporary artists—like Amy Sherald, Loie Hollowell, and Raymond Pettibon—with proceeds going towards helping patients affected by the ban obtain an out-of-state abortion.

Here, we offer insights on 10 of the standout lots that artists have donated to support Planned Parenthood’s urgent initiatives.

Jenny Holzer, AMAZEMENT (2019)

Jenny Holzer
Planned Parenthood Benefit Auction

Made from Versiyls gold marble, AMAZEMENT is emblematic of Jenny Holzer’s practice of inscribing poetic phrases into works of art. The marble bench, available with an opening bid of $255,000, is engraved with a tercet from Wisława Szymborska’s “Among the Multitudes,” a poem from her 2002 collection Moment that is centered on a speaker memorializing a past self. Like many of the participating artists, Holzer has a track record of supporting Planned Parenthood; she previously donated another bench piece, and in 2017, she teamed up with American designer Virgil Abloh to create limited-edition T-shirts with proceeds benefiting Planned Parenthood Los Angeles.

Elizabeth Glaessner, Huddle (2020)

This painting by Elizabeth Glaessner, entitled Huddle, depicts three anthropomorphic figures engaging in a saturated, post-apocalyptic forest. The New York–based artist, who draws inspiration from her experiences growing up in southeastern Texas as well as the ordinary objects that surround her, creates alluring paintings that continue to evolve and morph after their completion due to the artist’s practice of mixing oil paint with solvent.

Raymond Pettibon, No Title (She has accompanied...) (2014)

From dalmatians to cocker spaniels, dogs are a recurring motif in Raymond Pettibon’s cartoonish drawings and paintings. In No Title (She has accompanied…), Pettibon portrays Boo, his family’s pet Brussels griffon. A frequent muse for the artist, the playful dog’s shaggy brown hair takes up the entirety of the paper as her red tongue begins to peek out. The 2014 work, available with a starting bid of $30,000, was included in The Paris Review’ssummer issue that year while another portrait of Boo graced the issue’s cover.

Robert Mapplethorpe, Kathy Acker (1983)

Robert Mapplethorpe’s portrait of novelist and essayist Kathy Acker was first exhibited at the Palm Springs Art Museum in 2009 before being included in “Robert Mapplethorpe: The Perfect Medium” at LACMA and the J. Paul Getty Museum seven years later. Acclaimed for her transgressive writing that challenged conservative restraints on society, Acker comes across as timid in this 1983 photograph. Proceeds from this work will benefit the nonprofit Project Street Beat, which is a mobile health center that provides confidential healthcare and counseling to those living and working on the streets of New York.

Erin M. Riley, Humble Magnum (2018)

This grand-scale tapestry by Erin M. Riley, Humble Magnum—available with a starting bid of $7,000—depicts two used Magnum condoms and the brand’s torn signature wrapper that stand in stark contrast to the soft, muted-down background. Speaking about her participation in the auction, Riley said, “Planned Parenthood was a lifeline in my quest for autonomy as a teenager through to adulthood. It has been inspiring to see how it has fought to remain a resource available for everyone, and I am honored to donate my work to help it continue on its mission.”

Known for her erotic wool textiles, the Brooklyn-based artist magnifies the varied sexual expierences of everyday women through imagery culled from the internet. Riley, who has described herself “as a queer human who grew up in chat rooms,” hand-dyes the yarn for each object and subject that gives space for women’s stories detailing drug use, domestic violence, and sexuality that are often hidden from the larger part of society.

Carmen Herrera, Untitled (2015)

Carmen Herrera
Untitled, 2015
Planned Parenthood Benefit Auction

A key figure in the Op art and Minimalism movements, Cuban American artist Carmen Herrera has received renewed acclaim in recent decades for her striking compositions. This untitled 2015 work highlights Herrera’s distinct geometric style of abstraction with a palette reduced down to two colors—a practice the now 106-year-old developed while working in Paris with the artist group known as the Salon des Réalités Nouvelles in the late 1940s. Herrera donated this work in honor of Diane L. Max—a collector and former board chair member of Planned Parenthood—with whom she had a close relationship.

Amy Sherald, Hope is the thing with feathers (The little bird) (2021)

In her stunning portraits, Amy Sherald has been known to portray her subjects’ skin in grayscale with their clothes and surrounding background rendered in vibrant color. Sherald’s figurative works capture everyday, in-between moments of Black subjects. Hope is the thing with feathers (The little bird) builds on Sherald’s signature practice. The artist, who portrays people she meets by chance in public, discovered the young subject of this work—a dancer—while attending a performance of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater.

Loie Hollowell, Milk Fountain (2020)

“The work that I’m donating is an image I made two years ago while breastfeeding my first child,” Loie Hollowell said of this lush work. “And my ability to have a career and children is in large part thanks to Planned Parenthood, who many years ago allowed me the choice to have an abortion at a time when I was not ready to bring another life into this world.” Milk Fountain features curved purple shapes radiating with light that are symmetrically rendered to evoke the female form. Available with a starting bid of $7,500, the distinctive forms convey the physical experience of becoming a parent.

Robin F. Williams, Space Angel (Study), 2021

“All people deserve the right to keep their bodies and minds safe and healthy,” said Robin F. Williams. “Folks with wombs are not instruments of the state or sites of reproduction. They are people; alive, embodied, and inherently worthy of the right to choose.” This colored pencil drawing by Williams is a study for a painting of the same name which was recently featured in her solo show at P.P.O.W in New York, “Out Lookers.”

Kaylie Felsberg