Arthur Jafa Now At Auction

Arthur Jafa, Screen Shot, 2017/2019, Epson print facemounted on acrylic on aluminum, 183×116 cm, ed 2/5 + 2AP, image via artsy

The first work of Arthur Jafa’s is to appear at public auction*. Screen Shot (2017) will be sold next month by Chicago auction house Wright. The estimate is $10-15,000.  Printed in 2019 and mounted between plexi and aluminum, it is no. 2 in an edition of 5, plus two artist proofs.

Visible in the image is the contact for Virgil Abloh, a party to a Facetime conversation. Wright helpfully includes a link to a phone conversation between Jafa and Abloh, which took place in August for i-D, after Jafa won the Golden Lion at the Venice Biennale.

They did not discuss Abloh’s exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, which was on at the time, and which included Screen Shot in the final gallery.

Virgil Abloh, “Domino Effect”, 2018, “print on chrome”, 114×142 cm (sic), est. value $50,000. image: MCA Chicago

Wright does not give any provenance or exhibition information, so we do not know if this example of Screen Shot was the one shown, but we do know it was included  included in a silent auction on artsy, to be sold to benefit the MCA Chicago. The MCA’s page for the benefit auction on November 16th, 2019 shows the donor of the work was Jafa’s gallery, Gavin Brown Enterprises. With a $55,000 estimated value, Jafa’s work was the most expensive in the silent auction portion of the event. (With an estimate of $50,000, a unique “print on chrome” of a blown out Newport ad by Abloh himself was second.** )

If there’s an ed. 2/5, there is presumably at least an ed. 1/5, which perhaps belongs to Abloh. Or maybe it belongs to the person actually depicted in Screen Shot, rapper and Abloh collaborator Theophilus London. Did Jafa call Abloh and London got on, in which case, this was a screenshot of Jafa’s phone? Or is this a London selfie? It’s easier to imagine the former; the latter would have a different credit–or even mention London at all.

In any case, the estimate at Wright is $10-15,000. What the price might be for ed. 3-5 is unknown. [update: it sold for $7,500, which could mean it got two bids, $5k and $6k.]

March 12, 2020 Lot 190: Arthur Jafa, Screen Shot, 2017/2019, est. $10-15k [wright20]
in auction: MCA Chicago Benefit Auction 2019 [artsy]

*It is also the second to appear at benefit auction. The first one has so far managed to stay put.
** “If I hadn’t sat on Illustrator and gone to the screen printers to make it a reality, then it wouldn’t have happened – everything else is a domino effect,” Abloh said to i-D in 2015, in an article that called him “Yeezus’s most trusted disciple and a prophet to the talent of today and tomorrow.”