Discover 6 Top Lots in Artnet Auction’s Premier Prints Sale, From Basquiat’s Batman to Banksy’s Barking Dog
The sale also features work by iconic 20th-century artists like Jean Arp, Harland Miller, and Robert Longo.
Live for bidding now through October 12, 2023, Artnet’s Premier Prints sale features works from contemporary masters like Ed Ruscha and Alex Katz to famous street artists including Banksy and Kenny Scharf. Here, we’ve handpicked a few of our top lots from the sale and pinpointed a few intriguing details about each of these works. Read on to learn more.
Active since the 1990s, Banksy has become an urban legend in and of himself, with his street artworks popping up in a guerrilla fashion in public locations around the world. The present work, Choose Your Weapon, is based on a mural he painted on the side of a pub in Bermondsey, South London, in 2010, which illustrates a disaffected youth walking a barking dog. While drawing attention to the issue of street violence, Banksy also pays homage to Keith Haring, whose political themes and distinctive style inspired him. The first print release of Choose Your Weapon comprised 14 different colorways, each a signed edition of 25. Here we see the soft yellow impression.
Adam Pendleton is an American conceptual artist whose multi-disciplinary practice explores history and identity through appropriated imagery and language. Guided by his visual philosophy of Black Dada, which incorporates sources from European Dada of the early 20th century to the Black Power movement of the 1960s, Pendleton crafts a gestural combination of text and image which embodies his myriad sources. In this set of fourteen relief prints, each of which is unique, the artist’s simple shapes and short poetic phrases—such as “I AM HERE TODAY” and “WHO IS THE BLACK”—echo the form of spray-painted graffiti, using the low-brow sensibility of street art to communicate his philosophical project. This set, published in collaboration with Pace Prints in 2019, is among a very small number of unique prints produced by the artist and to become available at auction.
British artist Harland Miller is best known for his paintings and screen prints that resemble worn Penguin book covers, and which bear invented ironic titles created by Miller. In this hand-finished screen print of Wherever You Are Whatever You’re Doing This One’s For You, Miller silhouettes the cover against a white background, adding a yellow band and light pink fingerprint-like details across its center. Deeply influenced by Abstract Expressionism, the artist came into contact with urban art in New York, where he moved to in 1986, even writing his master’s thesis on the transition of graffiti art from street to gallery. Traces of these influences can be felt in his bold use of text echoing and twisting vernacular phrases.
An icon of the 1980s New York art scene along with Keith Haring, Jean-Michel Basquiat, and Jenny Holzer, Kenny Scharf continues to create works that reference popular culture and expand his distinctive visual universe. Scharf’s grinning figures, which reference cartoons like The Jetsons and Peanuts, are seen orbiting three central stars in Turnstar. This bronze sculpture is rare to auction as well; it is part of an edition of four.
Stik, an anonymous London-based street artist, began painting murals around his city around 2003. He is known for his stick figures on monochrome backgrounds which respond to the landscape around them. The artist imbues his murals with personal politics forged in his years spent drifting between homeless shelters, an experience that caused him to “see buildings as opportunities.” Sleeping Baby was released at the unveiling of the mural by the same name at Homerton Hospital in 2015 with the objective to raise money for the Regional Neurological Rehabilitation Unit. Released in four colorways, each an edition of 25 plus artist’s proofs, Sleeping Baby expresses the artist’s vision of a nurturing and just world.
Based on a 1987 canvas, this screenprint of Jean-Michel Basquiat’s Riddle Me This Batman showcases Basquiat’s interest in comic books. Offered along with another print from the Superhero portfolio, Piano Lesson, which also makes use of Batman characters, this print exemplifies Basquiat’s ability to transform and appropriate the symbols of pop culture to his own narrative ends. With his artistic origins on the streets of New York City where he used the tag SAMO, Basquiat bridged graffiti and gallery scenes during the 1980s. He used his dynamic signature style to comment on political, religious, and pop-cultural issues in electrifying canvases that can now be found in leading public and private collections. This print was issued by the artist’s estate and is dated in pencil by Lisane Basquiat and Jeanine Herivaux, the artist’s sisters and administrators of the Estate of Jean-Michel Basquiat, with the Estate stamp on the reverse; it is also accompanied by a separate signed and dated Certificate of Authenticity.
Browse these works and more in the Premier Prints sale, now live through October 12, 2023.
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