Late last month, New-York-based artist Anna Weyant’s ‘Falling Woman’ sold at a Sotheby’s auction for $1.6 million, far beyond the estimated price. The sale came days after Weyant’s 2020 painting ‘Summertime’ fetched $1.5 million at Christie’s, and Phillips auctioned her ‘Buffet II’ for $730,000.
Weyant is only 27, the youngest artist to be represented by the prestigious Gagosian art empire, which showcases some of the most influential artists of the 20th and 21st centuries in 16 commercial galleries around the world. The enormous sums fetched by her works have made her one of the most sought-after young artists in the international circuit.
Meteoric rise to stardom
A year after graduating in fine art from the Rhode Island School of Design in 2017, Weyant moved to New York and began assisting artist Cynthia Talmadge, who promoted her work on her own Instagram account. She also introduced Weyant to art dealer and curator Ellie Rines, owner of the New York gallery ’56 Henry’. It was Rines who helped Weyant make her initial sales of her.
In 2019, Weyant’s paintings and drawings reportedly sold at Upstairs Art Fair at Hamptons for $450 a piece. The same year, she had her de ella first solo de ella at Rines’s gallery, titled “Welcome to the Dollhouse”, which made a direct reference to Todd Solondz’s 1995 film of the same name. A note on the exhibition said Weyant’s works by Ella circled “around questions of youth and adolescence — with the wicked reality of growing up”.
The show was sold out. In 2020, Weyant’s work appeared on the cover of ‘New American Painters’, which was juried by critic Jerry Saltz. By 2021, Weyant was being represented by Blum & Poe gallery in Los Angeles, and her works were reported to be selling for nearly $50,000 each.
Around this time, she was noticed by 77-year-old Larry Gagosian, founder of the billion dollar art empire. This fall, she is scheduled to have an exhibition with the Gagosian, New York. Weyant is also currently dating Larry Gagosian.
In June 2021, at her auction debut at Phillips, Weyant’s Untitled drawing of long bare legs fetched $27,720, nearly four times its estimated price.
Formative years as an artist
In an interview with art market website Artnet, Weyant, who was born in Calgary, Canada, in 1995, described her childhood as “idyllic in a lot of ways,” but with limited exposure to art. After earning her graduation degree, she spent the summer as an event planner for the Lincoln Center in New York City.
Thereafter, she did a six-month course in painting at the China Academy of Art in Hangzhou where, influenced by the sepia tones of the city, she began to use a more muted palette.
In her other interviews she has mentioned several influences, including the seventeenth-century Dutch masters Frans Hals and Judith Leyster, and the contemporary American artists Ellen Berkenblit and Jennifer Packer.
Weyant’s dominant oeuvre
In her short, dramatic career so far, Weyant has come to be known primarily for depictions of still life, women, and baby-faced protagonists as they go through a whirlwind of emotions from heartbreak to doing pilates, introspecting, facing horrors, and simply having a good time.
The 2020 oil ‘Falling Woman’ shows a woman upside down with partially exposed breasts; in the oil ‘Loose Screw’, a woman is laughing along in a bar, looking somewhat lonely.
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The often realistic portrayals are dominated by a muted color palette of black, greys, and browns. Explaining her work process in a 2021 interview to the magazine ‘Art & Object’, Weyant said: “I start by making a series of sketches and building a basic set or maquette. I usually use a model and/or a mannequin. Photography can also be a great tool.”
A note on the Gagosian website says, “Weyant’s precisely rendered paintings depict figures embroiled in tragicomic narratives, and still-life compositions in which everyday objects adopt an uncanny, portentous air.”