Inaugural Exhibition at Phillips Los Angeles to Open on 25 October

  • LOS ANGELES, California
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  • October 18, 2022

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Jean-Michel Basquiat | To Repel Ghosts, 1985 | Estimate: $7,000,000 - 10,000,000
Courtesy of Phillips

Inaugural Exhibition at Phillips Los Angeles to Open on 25 October

Jean-Michel Basquiat’s To Repel Ghosts, Estimated at $7-10 Million, To Go on View Alongside Paintings by Ernie Barnes from Actor Richard Roundtree’s Personal Collection

Opening Exhibition from 25-27 October in New West Coast Outpost to Feature Works from the Upcoming Auctions of Watches, Design, and 20th Century & Contemporary Art

Highlights from The New York Watch Auction: SEVEN and December Design Auction to Also be On View

LOS ANGELES – 18 OCTOBER 2022 – Phillips is pleased to announce details surrounding the opening of its new Los Angeles outpost, the launch of which underscores the company’s commitment to the West Coast amid its continued global expansion. Open to the public from 25-27 October, the exhibition will feature works from the upcoming auctions of 20th Century & Contemporary Art, Watches, and Design, including Jean-Michel Basquiat’s To Repel Ghosts, estimated at $7-10 million. Also on view will be two works by Ernie Barnes from the collection of Golden Globe-Nominated actor Richard Roundtree, in addition to paintings by Amy Sherald and Julie Mehretu. Timepieces on view in Los Angeles include watches by Rolex, Patek Philippe, and Audemars Piguet, and Claude Lalanne’s Pair of “crococurule” stools from the December Design auction will also be featured in the exhibition. The gallery will be open from 10am to 5pm at 9041 Nemo Street, in the heart of Los Angeles’ art and culture scene, with an opening reception to be held on Tuesday, 25 October (RSVP required).

Jean-Michel Basquiat’s To Repel Ghosts is among the highlights of the exhibition and will be a star lot in the November Evening Sale of 20th Century & Contemporary Art. The monumental work, measuring seven feet tall, is a nearly double-life-sized portrait of Basquiat’s friend and fellow artist Jack Walls. Well known in 1980s downtown circles as Robert Mapplethorpe’s muse and romantic partner, Walls is rendered in Basquiat’s distinctive visual idiom—unmistakable by the gestural swathes of black, white, and yellow pigment—against a surface of affixed wooden boards. Basquiat’s penchant for incorporating doors and other found media into his practice first led him to experiment with timber slats for his 1984 masterwork Flexible, which employed the fencing that surrounded his Los Angeles studio. Exceedingly pleased with the resulting aesthetic effect, Basquiat soon returned to the idiosyncratic material, which he purchased from a Soho lumber yard to comprise the support of more than 17 paintings in the mid 1980s. Epitomizing his guiding principle to—quite literally—bring the urban environment into his studio, this major work from 1985 nods to Basquiat’s past as a street artist while anticipating the hallmarks of his mature style. The work belongs to a series of portraits Basquiat undertook in 1985 of Black subjects in the downtown art scene. The work’s title, To Repel Ghosts, is one of Basquiat’s most iconic phrases which has become synonymous with the artist’s declaration of his own identity.  

Phillips Los Angeles, 9041 Nemo Street, West Hollywood | Credit: Eric Staudenmaier
Courtesy of Phillips

Phillips is also proud to present two works by Ernie Barnes, owned by Golden Globe-nominated actor Richard Roundtree, an icon of American cinema, most notable for his role as SHAFT. Despite being neighbors in 1970s Los Angeles, Roundtree discovered Barnes’ artistic endeavors after Sammy Davis Jr. and Charlton Heston purchased his artworks. When Roundtree learned that Barnes lived just four blocks away, he walked to his home and met with him. As an actor who desired to explore Black experiences on screen, it was important for Rountree to see these artworks. They visually captured life, people, and places he had experienced. The hues used in both works are reflective of primary colors often found in Black American films during the 1970s. Deep browns, yellows, tans and hints of “blue-black,” were cultural markers that signified the wide range of skin color and complexion found in Black America.  Evidenced in both Untitled (Basketball Players) and My Man, Barnes’ unique ability to elevate the everyday to the extraordinary have captivated collectors across the world, with the market for his work having reached new heights.

Phillips continues to lead the market for Amy Sherald, holding the world record and all top four prices at auction. We are thrilled to be offering Sherald’s Pilgrimage of the Chameleon, 2016, this fall. At 72 x 51 inches, the work is notably larger than her standard 54 x 43 inch format, making this a rare opportunity to acquire a large-scale masterpiece by the artist.

Ernie Barnes | Untitled (Basketball Players), circa late 1970s-early 1980s | Estimate: $300,000 - 400,000
Courtesy of Phillips


Julie Mehretu’s Tsunemasa (next to Kaija) will also be on view in Los Angeles.  Inspired by the popular Japanese Noh drama Tsunemasa, the work evokes the mystical realm of the ceremony in the theatrical narrative as well as the Noh tradition of a tree as a background. Her use of sumi ink echoes these ancient traditions, with the medium used in East Asian calligraphy and meant to recall the essential nature of mark-making. A superb example from one of Mehretu's most acclaimed bodies of work, Tsunemasa (next to Kaija) coalesces her signature layered approach with a softer, more gestural idiom that evokes both cave drawings and urban graffiti. An enlarged reproduction of the work was used as the set for Peter Sellars’ staging of Kaija Saariaho’s opera Only the Sound Remains, which was performed across Europe and Canada beginning in 2016.

Coming to auction for the first time since its creation, Wesselmann’s Mouth #14 (Marilyn) is an iconic iteration of the artist’s series of Mouth paintings. Executed in November 1967, a watershed year for the artist, the work is among the early pivotal works in the series that were conceived in tandem with Wesselmann’s first Smoker paintings. Immersing the viewer into a hypnotic erotism and graphic intensity that characterizes the best of Wesselmann’s works, here the mouth of Marilyn Monroe is transformed into a pair of sultry scarlet lips, her blonde strands of hair evoking sensual flames. Immediately recalling Andy Warhol’s Marilyn Monroe’s Lips, 1962, the present work is at once an homage to Marilyn’s iconic smile and an embodiment of the relationship between advertising and celebrity. Exhibited at Sidney Janis Gallery the year of its creation, Mouth #14 (Marilyn) marks the apex of Wesselmann’s mid-career painterly investigations that established him at the forefront of the Pop vanguard.


Designed by Formation Association, Phillips Los Angeles marks the first brick and mortar space on the West Coast for the auction house, alongside an extensive network of specialists in the region, with representatives having long been in place in Seattle and San Francisco. Also included in the opening exhibition will be highlights from The New York Watch Auction: SEVEN and Design, with both auctions being held in December 2022 in New York.


Phillips Los Angeles will look to engage the vibrant collecting community on the West Coast through a robust calendar of events. A new partnership with the design influencer website Sight Unseen will activate the space from the launch of the gallery onward, with works by locally based contemporary designers on view alongside the auction highlights of 20th Century & Contemporary Art and Watches. Further details of the partnership are forthcoming.


Exhibition: 25 - 27 October, 9041 Nemo Street, West Hollywood

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