Nina Simone Childhood Home Auction Exhibition

May 12 – May 20, 2023
New York
Program Details:

Nina Simone Childhood Home Preservation Project

Gallery Exhibition:

Nina Simone Childhood Home Auction Exhibition
May 12 – 20, 2023
508 West 25th Street
New York

Auction Details:

Opens: 11 AM, Friday May 12, 2023
Closes: 3 PM, Monday, May 22, 2023
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Pace is pleased to reveal the artworks in the upcoming Nina Simone Childhood Home Auction Exhibition.

The benefit auction—which is co-curated by artist Adam Pendleton and the tennis champion, entrepreneur, and arts patron Venus Williams—will be conducted online by Sotheby’s leading up to and following the in-person gala at Pace’s 540 West 25th Street gallery in New York on May 20. This sale brings together marquee artworks—several of which are named for Nina Simone—in honor and recognition of the musical icon’s monumental contributions to the arts and social activism.

The artists who have donated artworks in honor of Simone’s memory are Cecily Brown; Ellen Gallagher; Rashid Johnson; Robert Longo; Julie Mehretu; Adam Pendleton; Martin Puryear; Sarah Sze; Mary Weatherford; Stanley Whitney; and Anicka Yi.

In the way of painting, the auction will include Runaway, a 2021 work by Brown, whose solo exhibition Cecily Brown: Death and the Maid is on view at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York through December 3; Johnson’s Bruise Painting “Nina’s Blues” (2023); a painting by Mehretu titled New Dawn, Sing (for Nina) (2023); a new silkscreen ink on canvas work by Pendleton; a painting by Sze, whose solo show Sarah Sze: Timelapse continues at the Guggenheim Museum in New York through September 10; a vibrant new abstraction by Weatherford; Nina in the Sky with Diamonds (2023) by Whitney; and Yi’s 2022 composition The Mother Tongue. The sale will also feature Longo’s large-scale 2022 charcoal drawing Untitled (Nina); Gallagher’s 2005 print Abu Simbel; and an Intaglio print created by Puryear in 2005.

Online bidding in the auction on (opens in a new window) Sotheby’s website will be available to the public starting at 11 AM EDT on Friday, May 12, and will close on Monday, May 22 at 3 PM EDT. All the artworks in the auction will be available to view in person—in addition to online—at Pace’s West 25th Street gallery in New York from May 12–20. Key lots in the sale will be highlighted by Sotheby’s auctioneer Kimberly Pirtle during the in-person gala at Pace.


All Works

Cecily Brown, Runaway, 2021, Oil on linen, 19-1/16" × 17-3/16" × 1-5/8" (48.4 cm × 43.7 cm × 4.1 cm), © Cecily Brown. Courtesy: Cecily Brown and Paula Cooper Gallery Photo: Genevieve Hanson

Cecily Brown

Runaway, 2021

This painting depicts an amalgamated scene of milky flesh amidst mid-apocalyptic chaos.

Through the smoke and rubble emerge moments of clarity; a truncated female figure, and suggestions of flora and fauna, broken machinery, and tumbledown cities all crowd the canvas. The soft, clouded yellows exude a lightness and sense of hope in contrast to the tumultuous surroundings.

Ellen Gallagher, Abu Simbel, 2005, Photogravure, watercolor, colour pencil, varnish, pomade, plasticine, blue fur, gold leaf and crystals, 24-1/2" × 35-1/2" (62.2 cm × 90.2 cm), paper, 35-3/4" × 47-1/4" (90.8 cm × 120 cm), framed, © Ellen Gallagher. Courtesy Gagosian.

Ellen Gallagher

Abu Simbel, 2005

In 2005, Ellen Gallagher presented Ichthyosaurus, a site-specific solo show at the Freud Museum in London. For this exhibition, Gallagher produced Abu Simbel, a print combining a photogravure of the Great Temple of Ramesses II that hung in Sigmund Freud’s library, and a plasticine rendition of Sun Ra’s spaceship from the 1972 film Space is the Place. In this ray-gun-irradiated tableau, two inlaid Black figures pilot the spacecraft on a rescue mission to retrieve the severed heads below. Two uniformed nurses with eerie smiles, avatars of the notorious Nurse Rivers, stand at the entrance to the stone temple trying to lure the ship onto the rocks. Further to the right are three official-looking men, conscripts from a Jet magazine article about real-estate speculation in Harlem.

Rashid Johnson, Bruise Painting “Nina’s Blues”, 2023, Oil on linen, 48" × 36" × 1-11/16" (121.9 cm × 91.4 cm × 4.3 cm), 49-1/8" × 37-1/8" (124.8 cm × 94.3 cm), framed © Rashid Johnson, Courtesy of Rashid Johnson, Photographer: Stephanie Powell

Rashid Johnson

Bruise Painting “Nina’s Blues”, 2023

Rashid Johnson’s Bruise Painting “Nina’s Blues” (2023) is a part of the artist’s Bruise Paintings series. Begun in 2021, this series is a transition from Johnson’s series of red works, The Anxious Red paintings. All made in 2020, in this series, there is a sense of urgency, anxiety, and even dread. The artist’s scrawled marks form what can be interpreted as crowds of anxious abstract faces. The Bruise Paintings, on the other hand, have a sense of calm sadness. Johnson’s marks have a lyrical feel. The paintings are composed of mostly one blue, “Black&Blue,” a hue of Johnson’s creation in collaboration with R&F paints. Johnson layers and stretches the paint across the canvas, allowing one color to seem like many. Crowds of abstract faces fill these canvases, but instead of anxiety, there is a feeling of melancholy. “Bruise” suggests a liminal space where healing has begun, but the remnants of trauma are still evident.

Robert Longo, Untitled (Nina), 2022, Charcoal on mounted paper, 60" × 40" (152.4 cm × 101.6 cm), image, 65" × 45" (165.1 cm × 114.3 cm), frame, © Robert Longo Studio

Robert Longo

Untitled (Nina), 2022

A key figure of the “Pictures Generation” of the late 1970's and 80's, Robert Longo is widely known for his large-scale, hyper-realistic charcoal drawings. His "Men in the Cities," charcoal and graphite series, presented at his first solo exhibition at Metro Pictures in New York in 1981, features among the most iconic artworks of the 1980s.

Longo continues to work with characteristic scale, precision, and relevance. His images drawn from recent history could easily be confused for representations, but are in fact the artist's sensitive interpretations and amalgamations inspired by the media storm from current events, resulting in a perfect image.

Longo’s latest work is informed by the nation’s political upheaval, our tenuous ecological future, the Coronavirus Pandemic, and the artist’s personal experiences. Through his large-scale charcoal drawings, Longo seeks to focus on the power of the viewer and the individual’s capacity to create change, evoking a celebration of freedom of expression.

Julie Mehretu, New Dawn, Sing (for Nina), 2023, Ink and Acrylic on Canvas, 36-1/4" × 44-1/8" (92.1 cm × 112.1 cm) © Julie Mehretu Courtesy of the artist and Marian Goodman Gallery, Photo Credit: Tom Powel Imaging

Julie Mehretu

New Dawn, Sing (for Nina), 2023

Adam Pendleton, Untitled (Days for Nina), 2023, silkscreen ink on canvas, 50" × 60" (127 cm × 152.4 cm), © Adam Pendleton, courtesy Pace Gallery

Adam Pendleton

Untitled (Days for Nina), 2023

Adam Pendleton’s Untitled (Days) paintings capture a microhistory of marks and impressions: drips, splatters, strokes, erasures, shapes, word fragments. These are the accumulated gestures left over from work undertaken in Pendleton's painting studio, remnants arranged in all-over compositions dense with visual texture. Together, these paintings constitute an index of what it takes to make a painting.

Martin Puryear, Untitled V, 2006, Intaglio print, 18" × 24" (45.7 cm × 61 cm), image, 29" × 34" (73.7 cm × 86.4 cm), paper © Martin Puryear, courtesy Matthew Marks Gallery

Martin Puryear

Untitled V, 2005

The work of sculptor Martin Puryear is often referred to as an intersection of minimalism and the traditional craftsmanship he spent his childhood studying. Puryear predominantly works in stone, wood, wire, and tar. His prints reflect the organic shapes and architectural aesthetics that inform the majority of his sculptural works, seen in the fine lines and vessel-like forms of Untitled V (2005). This print was published by Paulson Fontaine Press, located in Berkley, CA, who Puryear has long collaborated with. Untitled V was included in a major exhibition of Puryear’s prints in 2016, Martin Puryear: Multiple Dimensions, which traveled from the Art Institute of Chicago to the Morgan Library and Museum in New York and the Smithsonian Art Museum in Washington D.C.

Sarah Sze, Spell, 2023, oil paint, acrylic paint, inkjet prints, acrylic polymers, string, and ink on diabond, aluminum, wood and paper, 76" × 111" × 3" (193 cm × 281.9 cm × 7.6 cm), overall, 76" × 27" × 2" (193 cm × 68.6 cm × 5.1 cm), panel, 76" × 28-1/2" × 2-1/2" (193 cm × 72.4 cm × 6.4 cm), panel, 76" × 55-1/2" × 3" (193 cm × 141 cm × 7.6 cm), panel © Sarah Sze, Courtesy Sarah Sze Photo Credit: Sarah Sze Studio

Sarah Sze

Spell, 2023

Sarah Sze’s Spell presents a richly textured painting that collapses multiple forms of picture making into a dynamic whole. Sze weaves layers of paint and scraps of images into compositions of sweeping arcs, thrumming lines, and shimmering gradients. In freely combining photographic imagery and painterly mark making, these restless tableaux evoke the fluidity of the digital realm while retaining the aura of the analog and the handmade.

Mary Weatherford, Butterflies and Moths, 2023, Flashe on linen, 60" × 44" (152.4 cm × 111.8 cm), Courtesy the artist, Photography: Fredrik Nilsen Studio

Mary Weatherford

Butterflies and Moths, 2023

Butterflies and Moths (2023), a new painting by Mary Weatherford, showcases gestural Flashe brushstrokes underscored by Weatherford’s signature neon. Adding a sculptural element to her paintings, neon lights have been a presence in her work since she first incorporated them in 2012. In her paintings, Weatherford delves methodically into art history, science, architecture, and gender. She pushes the boundaries of abstraction and explores the medium’s possibilities.

Stanley Whitney, Nina in the Sky with Diamonds, 2023, Oil on Linen, 60-1/8" × 60" × 1-3/4" (152.7 cm × 152.4 cm × 4.4 cm), Courtesy of the artist

Stanley Whitney

Nina in the Sky with Diamonds, 2023

“I start at the top and work down,” Stanley Whitney explains about his artistic process. “That gets into call-and-response. One color calls forth another. Color dictates the structure, not the other way round.” Whitney’s vibrant abstract paintings unlock the linear structure of the grid, imbuing it with new and unexpected cadences of color, rhythm, and space. Deriving inspiration from sources as diverse as Piet Mondrian, Giorgio Morandi, and American quilting, Whitney composes with blocks and bars that articulate a chromatic dialogue in each canvas. He has spent many years experimenting with the seemingly limitless potential of a single compositional method, loosely dividing square canvases into multiple registers. Thinly applied oil paint retains his active brushstrokes and allows for transparency and tension at the overlapping borders between each rectilinear parcel of vivid color. He explores the shifting effects of freehand geometries at both intimate and grand scales as he deftly lays down successive blocks of paint, heeding the call of each color. Experimental jazz—Charlie Parker, Miles Davis, Ornette Coleman—is Whitney’s soundtrack, its defining improvisational method yielding ever new energies to his process of painting.

Anicka Yi, The Mother Tongue, 2022, UV print on silk screen mesh, in a cherry frame, 58-1/2" × 46-1/2" (148.6 cm × 118.1 cm), © 2023 Anicka Yi / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Photo: David Regen, courtesy of Gladstone Gallery.

Anicka Yi

The Mother Tongue, 2022

Following early experiments with “soap painting,” (2013–15), Anicka Yi began to investigate painting and image-making in earnest in 2020. She began by feeding images of sculptural works from her archive into a machine learning (ML) model that generated new two-dimensional composition ideas. As Yi expanded this process, she developed several ML algorithms, mixing in different biomorphic imagery, while manipulating her past work to prompt and guide the algorithm’s output. Each ML algorithm functions as a layer of “paint” and generates unique imagery, from brush strokes and washes of color, to blood cells and fish eggs, scratched and ruptured skin, polyps and crustaceans, and the undulations of a deep ocean floor. These digital amalgamations resulted in her “mesh painting” series.

For the present work, The Mother Tongue (2022), Yi collaged imagery from her various ML algorithms to create a digital painting showcasing supple forms emerging from the unknown. This painting was then UV-printed onto two layers of silkscreen mesh, creating a moiré effect in which the partial opacity of the superficial layer is disrupted by the impressions of the patterned underlayer. The Mother Tongue was chosen as a humble tribute to Nina Simone, whose blending of many musical styles continues to evoke dazzling waveforms in the radical present and into the future. Balancing generational tides as we face the uncertainties of the 21st century, the enduring legacy of Simone continues to inspire with courage and ever-flowing grace.


Venus Williams, Adam Pendleton, and Brent Leggs on Nina Simone’s Legacy

In our new film, tennis champion, entrepreneur, and arts patron Venus Williams; artist Adam Pendleton; and Brent Leggs, Executive Director of the African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund, share how the legacy of musical icon and civil rights activist Nina Simone has inspired them ahead of our multifaceted benefit supporting the Action Fund's Nina Simone Childhood Home preservation project.


About the Project

A multifaceted benefit supporting the National Trust for Historic Preservation's African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund’s work to restore Nina Simone's home will encompass an online auction conducted by Sotheby’s, a gala dinner at our New York flagship on May 20, and an in-person exhibition of all works in the online sale.

This momentous fundraiser convenes leaders across the worlds of art, philanthropy, and historic preservation to safeguard the childhood home of Nina Simone, whose cultural legacy is of great personal significance to all the artists involved in the gala and auction.

Learn More