Sotheby’s is Selling Candid Studio Portraits of Jonas Wood, Henry Taylor, and Other Artists—See Them Here

The charismatic pictures were all shot by the self-taught photographer Aubrey Mayer.

Aubrey Mayer, Jonas Wood (2012). Courtesy of Sotheby's.

Most portraits of artists are so formulaic you could create a BINGO card of cliches. 

Paint-stained clothes? Got it. A brooding expression? Yep. A table of repurposed coffee cans, a lit cigarette, a work-in-progress in the background? BINGO.

That’s why it’s so seductive to see portraits of artists that actually have some life to them, such as those shot by Aubrey Mayer, a self-taught 35-year-old photographer who has dedicated his practice to taking candid, charismatic pictures of artists as they really are.

It’s this quality that attracted Nicholas Cinque, Sotheby’s private sales director in New York, who arranged for the auction house to sell a selection of Mayer’s most prized artist portraits.

“What stands out most to me about his work,” Cinque said in a statement, “is the level of trust he’s built with each of these remarkable artists, and the unprecedented access he’s been given to capture their working environments. As our relationship to art becomes further distant in these unique times, Aubrey’s work offers us, the viewer, a vicarious way of visiting artist’s studios.”   

Each of Mayer’s six portraits on sale at Sotheby’s manages to embody their subject. See, for instance, a shadowy, high-contrast snap of Jacqueline Humphries that strikes the same noirish tone as the dark abstract canvas she’s working on in it, or an airy, wide shot of Jonas Wood that gels with the omniscient painting of his own studio in the frame, creating a kind of Droste effect. 

Aubrey Mayer, </i>Raymond Pettibon</i> (2011). Courtesy of Sotheby's.

Aubrey Mayer, Raymond Pettibon (2011). Courtesy of Sotheby’s.

Other large-scale prints for sale include a portrait of Henry Taylor studiously at work on a painting in his own studio, as well contact sheets of Mark Grotjahn, Ed Ruscha, and Raymond Pettibon. Each was printed in 2020 and is an edition of five.

“I’ve been taking photographic portraits of other artists for the last 15 years, and as my body of work has expanded, I’ve begun to see it evolve as a double portrait and my archive as source material to explore my own interests as an artist,” said Mayer, who’s also photographed Jamian Juliano Villani, Chloe Wise, Francis Stark, Christopher Wool, and Lawrence Weiner, among many others. 

“I have learned so much through photographing these artists and feel incredibly lucky to have their support, and to be invited into their sacred spaces of work. In return, they have hugely impacted my work and development as an artist.”

See more of Mayer’s portraits below.

Aubrey Mayer, </i>Ed Ruscha</i> (2015). Courtesy of Sotheby's.

Aubrey Mayer, Ed Ruscha (2015). Courtesy of Sotheby’s.

Aubrey Mayer, </i>Henry Taylor</i> (2012). Courtesy of Sotheby's.

Aubrey Mayer, Henry Taylor (2012). Courtesy of Sotheby’s.

Aubrey Mayer, </i>Jacqueline Humphries</i> (2013). Courtesy of Sotheby's.

Aubrey Mayer, Jacqueline Humphries (2013). Courtesy of Sotheby’s.

Aubrey Mayer, </i>Mark Grotjahn</i> (2012). Courtesy of Sotheby's.

Aubrey Mayer, Mark Grotjahn (2012). Courtesy of Sotheby’s.

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