Young Painters Stole the Show (Again) at Phillips Hong Kong’s $27 Million Contemporary Art Sale

The sale saw strong performances from rising stars Anna Weyant and Lucy Bull, who set a new auction record.

Auctioneer Jonathan Crockett selling lot 9. Photo courtesy of Phillips.

Works by very young contemporary artists were in high demand at Phillips Hong Kong’s 20th century and contemporary art evening sale today.

The star turns added some excitement to an otherwise tepid sale that totaled HK$214 million ($27.3 million). 95 percent of the 44 lots on offer were snapped up, with five withdrawn. 

Lucy Bull’s painting 8:50, a lyrically abstract explosion of color, broke the artist’s auction record when it sold for HK$11.4 million ($1.5 million), several times its high estimate of HK$1.5 million ($192,000). Born in 1990, Bull was not the only young woman artist in the sale to spark outsize interest. 

Lucy Bull, 8:50 (2020). Photo courtesy of Phillips.

An intimate nude study, Chest, by Anna Weyant, born in 1995, made almost six times its high estimate of HK$700,000 ($89,700), fetching HK$4.2 million ($530,000). The impressive figure fell short, however, of some of Weyant’s recent auction triumphs in May’s sales, including $1.5 million for her debut at Christie’s and a new record of $1.6 million set at Sotheby’s.

The artist has made headlines recently for her rapidly rising prices and the announcement in May that she would join Gagosian. (She has dated mega-dealer Larry Gagosian for the past year.)

Many of the young artists placed in Phillips’s “Ultra/Neo” category trounced their high estimates, including Anna Park, Emmanuel Taku, and Aboudia. Trey Abdella set a new record at HK$2.6 million ($337,100) for Some Things Aren’t Worth Waiting For (2019). And with Ayako Rokkaku’s Untitled (2019) selling for HK$8.1 million ($1 million), the artist appears still to be riding high from the success of her sold-out solo exhibition at Phillips Hong Kong in 2018. 

Old favorites also performed well. George Condo led the sale with HK$36.6 million ($4.7 million) for the sketch Transparent Female Forms (2009). The recent craze for Matthew Wong saw the artist’s high estimate of HK$26 million just surpass that of HK$24 million for David Hockney’s Painted Landscape (Or Red and Blue Landscape). The Hockney failed to sell, while Wong’s typically surreal Pink Wave (2017) reached HK$22.6 million ($2.8 million). 

Mathew Wong, Pink Wave (2017). Photo courtesy of Phillips.

The late artist’s considerable market power was proven again by the strong performance of 76-year-old painter Scott Kahn, whose value exploded shortly after he was endorsed by Wong in 2018.

Kahn set a new record of HK$7.5 million ($967,000) at Phillips Hong Kong at the end of last year, and today his verdant landscape Soundview (2008) made HK$4 million ($500,000) over a high estimate of HK$1.4 million ($179,000).

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