Discover Boundary-Breaking Artworks By Leading Contemporary Artists in Our ‘Radical’ Sale

Find out what makes these innovative works by The Haas Brothers, Marina Abramovic, JR, and Bruce Nauman so unconventional.

Peter Beard, Classic forest Rhino in the Aberdares, Ruhuti River Valley, with Galo Galo Gayo and General Chui (ndiranga) Last word from Paradise, (1966).

With a focus on art’s rule breakers —both in subject matter and in process⁠—artnet Auctions’ new Radical sale offers an exhilarating selection of works by artists who have created outside the typically acceptable tastes of the marketplace.

The sale was especially exciting for our specialists to put together. “We wanted to make a statement with this sale and feature artists who challenge the norm in terms of subject matter, method, and material, among other things. They’re not always commercially appealing⁠—though some may be more now than they once were⁠—but they’re constantly pushing the boundaries,” says Conner Williams, head of prints and multiples.

With subjects that are visually arresting, and even shocking, check out a few of our favorite lots from the sale.

Unique Tannery Pearson (Mini Beast)
The Haas Brothers

The Haas Brothers, Unique Tannery Pearson (Mini Beast) (2014).

Twin brothers Simon and Nikolai Haas first broke onto the scene in the early 2010s. By upending traditional design norms and using unconventional materials, the Haas Brothers’ work never fails to shock and delight viewers. 

This work from 2014 shows the brothers at the apex of their abilities. The use of fur, matte ebony, and shimmering gold plating in this piece makes for an animated sensuality that is entirely unique to their work.

Eye Froissé (Red)

JR, Eye Froissé (Red) (2011).

The mysterious French artist JR is all about manipulating the viewer’s perception. Although he’s technically a graffiti artist, his interventions often consists of pasting large-scale copies of his photos in public spaces. As a self-titled “Urban Artivist,” the unidentified artist tackles social hierarchies, personal relationships, political issues, and cultural interactions in his work. In this piece from 2011, he imposes a photograph of an eye upon a crumpled piece of paper. Eyes are a recurring theme in his work—which you can also catch in a sprawling retrospective on view now at the Brooklyn Museum.

Pearl Masque
Bruce Nauman

Bruce Nauman, Pearl Masque (1981).

As specialist Conner Williams commented, this sale focuses largely on the work of artists who “can be easily misunderstood or, probably more commonly, few wish to understand or appreciate their work.” Bruce Nauman is a prime example. The conceptual artist works in a wide array of media including neon lights, video, and performance— and often in unexpected ways. In “Pearl Masque,” he infuses humor and irony through his alternate spelling of the word “mask.” The washy lithograph has a difficult or unknown meaning⁠ that seems intentional.

Self Portrait with Skeleton
Marina Abramović

Marina Abramović, Self Portrait with Skeleton (2003).

Never one to shy away from controversial or taboo subjects, Marina Abramović has often scandalized the art world with performances and photographs that engage her own body. In this self portrait, Abramović was inspired by Tibetan Buddhist monks’ practice of sleeping next to the dead.

“The work is really about facing your own mortality,” Abramović explains. “It’s about fear of pain and fear of dying. It’s something that in our life we fear the most.”

Find these and other artworks at artnet Auctions’s Radical sale, live for bidding now through November 7.

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