Phillips will inaugurate its new Park Avenue headquarters with a 20th century art evening sale in New York on June 23. Alongside works by Vija Celmins, Brice Marden, and Carmen Herrera, headlining the summer sale is Amy Sherald’s portrait It made sense…mostly in her mind (2011), which is expected to achieve a price of $500,000–$700,000.
The work depicts a woman dressed in equestrian attire holding a stuffed animal and staring out at the viewer. It pays homage to the artist’s childhood experience attending a predominantly white horse-riding camp. Since 2012, the work has been loan at the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington, D.C., where it hung alongside another single-figure portrait of a young girl titled They call me Redbone but I’d rather be Strawberry Shortcake (2009), gifted to the museum by Baltimore collector Steven Scott. Proceeds from the sale of the present work will benefit the acquisitions, exhibitions and endowment funds at the National Museum of Women in the Arts.
“She paints very few paintings,” said Phillips deputy chairman Jean-Paul Engelen in a statement. “So when one comes up for auction, it’s a big event.”
Phillips set the current record for the Michelle Obama portraitist in December, when it sold her second work to ever come to auction during a New York evening sale. The Bathers (2015), a double portrait of two young women in bathing suits, had come from the collection of Virginia philanthropists William and Pam Royall, and went on to sell for $4.3 million, far beyond its estimate of $150,000–$200,000. Before that, Sherald’s Innocent You, Innocent Me (2016), a portrait of a young man against a blue background, sold in May 2019 at Christie’s for $350,000, against a $80,000–$120,000 estimate.
Other highlights slated for the June evening sale include Celmins’s Untitled (Ocean), 1987–88, the second painting of ocean surfaces by the artist ever to come to auction. It is estimated at around $6 million. Marden’s abstraction Elements III (1983) is expected to achieve $4 million, and Herrera’s 1958 canvas Green and Orange is expected to go for $2 million.
Following the New York modern and contemporary art evening sales, Phillips will hold a round of joint 20th century art and contemporary sales with China’s Poly Auction, this time with two sale locations—in Hong Kong and Beijing—in June.