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Seminal Jeff Koons sculpture to headline Phillips auction

A seminal sculpture by American artist Jeff Koons will lead the Phillips 20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale in New York.
Executed in 1988, the porcelain sculpture ‘Naked’ was part of Koons’ pivotal Banality series which launched him onto the international stage for the first time.

The series of sculptures combined pop culture figures, such as Michael Jackson and Bubbles the chimp, Buster Keaton and the Pink Panther, together with kitsch religious imagery.

The sculpture offered at Phillips is the artist’s proof from an edition of three, with other examples having been exhibited at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Chicago Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Centre Pompidou and the Guggenheim.

Having remained in the same private collection for a quarter of a century, the sculpture is now expected to sell for $5-$7 million.

In May 2008, another ‘Naked’ sculpture from the same edition crossed the block in New York, where it sold for $9 million against an estimate of $1.5-2 million.

"We are very pleased to be offering Jeff Koons’s Naked , a key work from the breakthrough series of one of the world’s most famous living artists," said Jean-Paul Engelen, Phillips’ Worldwide Head of Contemporary Art.

"In the Banality series, Koons represents a kind of Garden of Eden with this work portraying Adam and Eve, playing on themes of cultural shame and guilt, of high and low art and seduction. When it was first shown in 1988 with concurrent exhibitions in New York, Chicago and Cologne, it was a sea-change moment for Koons, as well as for the contemporary art world."

Further highlights from the sale will include Brice Marden’s abstract portrait ‘Star (for Patti Smith)’, estimated at $5-$7 million; Mark Bradford’s 2012 mixed media collage ‘Building "The Big White Whale"’, valued at $3-$5 million; Marlene Dumas’s stripper portrait ‘Night Nurse’, painted circa 1999-2000 and estimated at $2-$3 million; and an Untitled 1981 work by Jean-Michel Basquiat, priced at $3-$3 million.

Phillips 20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale takes place on Sunday May 8.

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