Art Market

David Hammons’s iconic “African American Flag” is being offered for $1.5 million in a Phillips private sale.

Justin Kamp
Apr 16, 2020 4:34PM, via Art Market Monitor

David Hammons, American Flag (1990). Est. $1.5 million–2 million. Image courtesy Phillips.

An edition of David Hammons’s iconic African American Flag (1990) is making a rare appearance on the auction block. The historic piece is among a suite of works available through Phillips’s online viewing room for private sales, where it is listed with an asking price of approximately $1.5 million to $2 million. The work being offered is one of five editions of the famous flag.

Phillips also unveiled two new online auctions this week—Desktop, featuring artist-designed furniture and a selection of 20th and 21st century artworks, including works by Henry Taylor and Trudy Benson; and Current Mood, featuring a curated selection of contemporary artwork, including pieces by Donald Judd, Katherine Bernhardt, and Nicolas Party.

Hammons’s African American Flag was produced for the 1990 exhibition “Black USA” at Amsterdam’s Museum Overholland. Its appearance on the secondary market is an extremely infrequent occurrence, as the market for Hammons’s work is tightly controlled. The last time an edition of African American Flag appeared at auction, at Phillips in November 2018, it carried a similar $1.5 million to $2 million estimate, and on its lower side, for $1.6 million.

Phillips’ deputy chairman and head of private sales Miety Heiden told Art Market Monitor:

It is indeed rare to see David Hammons’ works being offered at auction or for private sale. This flag is, in my opinion, his most iconic and historically important work and will likely be quite difficult to find available for sale in the future. It is rare to see it on the market at this time and we are pleased to be able to offer collectors the opportunity to buy it now.

The online sales are part of Phillips’s online-only spring auctions, which opened on April 8th with a sale of editions and works on paper, and will continue throughout April and May with themed, cross-category, online-only sales. In March, the auction house postponed the majority of its in-person sales, and later announced that it would combine its New York and London sales into one consolidated week of auctions, scheduled for mid-June.

Further Reading: The Most Influential Living African American Artists

Justin Kamp