Stefan Sagmeister finds beauty in New York

The designer and Phaidon author picks out 12 of the most beautiful lots in Phillips' upcoming sales
Stefan Sagmeister with Nick Cave's Soundsuit, 2006, now on view at Phillips New York
Stefan Sagmeister with Nick Cave's Soundsuit, 2006, now on view at Phillips New York

“Beauty is the dose of humanity that makes our lives better,” writes Stefan Sagmeister in his new Beauty book, which he co-authored with his business partner Jessica Walsh. So why do so few people in the visual arts value this quality?

“In the design world today, most respected practitioners claim not to be interested in it,” the authors argue. “Artists avoid it so as not to have their work labelled decorative or commercial. One can leaf through stacks of architecture books without seeing the term mentioned.”


One of Stefan Sagmeister's specially commissioned wall texts
One of Stefan Sagmeister's specially commissioned wall texts

In an attempt to right this wrong, Sagmeister dropped by Phillips in New York to view the auction house’s forthcoming 20th Century and Contemporary Art Evening and Day Sales, to pick out 12 of the most beautiful lots.

 His selection included one of Nick Cave's crazy looking Soundsuits, "these suits are full of references, and I find them all beautiful," Sagmeister said in the specially commissioned wall text; an untitled drawing by Agnes Martin from the mid 1960s, “so subtle and lovely, technical but sweet, I'd love to have it on my wall”; a wonderful painted photograph by Gerhard Richter, “his sublime mix of abstraction and realism always gets me”; and a classic Warhol Brillo Box, “Warhol originally exhibited all sorts of branded boxes, Kellogg's Cornflakes, Heinz Ketchup and others, but only the Brillo box became an icon of pop-art. This is likely connected to the fact that the original Brillo box was designed by James Harvey, an abstract expressionist painter who created commercial work on the weekends."


Sagmeister & Walsh: Beauty

Want to see these beauties for yourself, first hand? Then get along to Phillips at 450 Park Avenue. The sales take place today (14 November) and tomorrow (15 November). Meanwhile, for a deeper examination on Sagmeister and Walsh’s take on the aesthetic world get Sagmeister & Walsh: Beauty here.

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Phaidon is the premier global publisher of the creative arts with over 1,500 titles in print. We work with the world's most influential artists, chefs, writers and thinkers to produce innovative books on art, photography, design, architecture, fashion, food and travel, and illustrated books for children. Phaidon is headquartered in London and New York City.
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