Auction Record: At Phillips London, Barbershop Painting by Hurvin Anderson Soars to Nearly $2.4 Million

A report by Victoria L. Valentine for Culture Type.

A MAJOR PAINTING by Hurvin Anderson, a finalist for the 2017 Turner Prize, sold for nearly $2.4 million (including fees) at Phillips London last night. “Peter’s Series: Back” (2008) is an important work from a group of paintings and works on paper the artist made between 2007-2009. The images depict a British barbershop frequented by Jamaican immigrants. On Oct. 6, the oil on canvas painting sold for $2,387,880 (£1,809,000), an artist record.

To promote the lot, Phillips published a special feature about the Peter Series. It explains the cultural significance of the barbershop and how it came to be a formative subject in Anderson’s practice.

When Caribbean migrants arrived in the UK in the 1950s and 60s, rather than ingratiating themselves to their white British counterparts, they felt more comfortable creating there own social environments—including black churches, bars, and barbershops, often in people’s homes. The Peter Series is inspired by an attic space converted into a barbershop run by Peter Brown, a friend of the artist’s father.

The catalog essay describes Anderson’s visual approach: “‘Peter’s Series: Back’ gracefully transcends both the figurative and abstract, depicting an unknown sitter pre- or post-haircut. The series provided Anderson with an aesthetic playground to explore the realms of detail, texture and abstraction. …In ‘Peter’s Series: Back,’ subject matter, perspective and abstraction visually converge to produce a sumptuous energised scene, coursing with the tempo of daily life.”

“‘Peter’s Series: Back’ gracefully transcends both the figurative and abstract, …subject matter, perspective and abstraction visually converge to produce a sumptuous energised scene, coursing with the tempo of daily life.” — Phillips

Consigned to Phillips by a U.S. collector, the painting has appeared in four exhibitions, including a pivotal show Tate Britain in 2009, and later that year at the Studio Museum in Harlem, Anderson’s first U.S. solo museum exhibition.

The British-born artist is a graduate of the Royal College of Art. His works are grounded in memory and history, and defined by his family experiences, British background, and Jamaican heritage. Blending abstraction and figuration, he depicts lush landscapes and places of personal and cultural significance, settings that capture singular moments that speak to important arcs of time.

Anderson is being considered for the top art prize in the UK. The final four nominees were announced in the spring and the winner will be selected Dec. 5. The Turner Prize exhibition is currently on view at the Ferens Art Gallery in Hull through Jan. 7, 2018.

The artist’s previous auction record was set on July 1, 2014, when “Afrosheen,” a barbershop painting executed in 2009, sold at Christie’s London for £1,314,500 including fees (approximately $2.2 million). CT

TOP IMAGE: Lot 6: HURVIN ANDERSON, “Peter’s Series: Back,” 2008 (oil on canvas). Estimate £600,000-£900,000. Sold for £1,809,000 / $2,387,880 (including fees)

READ MORE about Hurvin Anderson in an interview with Culture Type

READ MORE about artist resale rights/royalties here and here.

Michael Werner Gallery published a catalog to coincide with Hurvin Anderson’s “Foreign Body” exhibition. “Hurvin Anderson: Backdrop” accompanied the artist’s show at the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis. The large-format publication features page after page of full-bleed images and details of works, along with an interview with the artist conducted by fashion designer Duro Olowu. “Hurvin Anderson: Reporting Back” was published on the occasion of his survey exhibition at Ikon Gallery in Birmingham UK.

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