Gagosian Quarterly

November 13, 2018

(RED) Auction 2018

Theaster Gates and Sir David Adjaye join Bono to spearhead (RED)’s third auction of contemporary art and design, raising funds for the global fight against AIDS. As Gagosian prepares the preview exhibition, opening on December 1, Gillian Pistell looks at the event’s history and the urgency of this vital cause.

Theaster Gates, Bono, and David Adjaye. Photo: Rankin

Theaster Gates, Bono, and David Adjaye. Photo: Rankin

Gillian Pistell

Gillian Pistell joined Gagosian in May 2017 as a researcher and writer. She received her doctorate in art history from the Graduate Center, CUNY, in February 2019. Prior to Gagosian, she worked as a research assistant in the Modern and Contemporary Art Department at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, and has contributed to several scholarly publications, including Pen to Paper: Artists’ Handwritten Letters from the Smithsonian’s Archives of American Art.

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We have a very binary choice here: we can end AIDS by 2030 or we can blow it.
—Sir David Adjaye

When Bono and Damien approached me about the first auction in 2008, there wasn’t a doubt in my mind; we had to use the Gagosian platform to help. (RED) has been instrumental in the pursuit of eradicating AIDS, and it has been an honor to be a part of this effort. I am excited to host the preview exhibition again this year in Miami.
Larry Gagosian

In 2006 Bono and activist Bobby Shriver founded (RED) as a division of the international advocacy organization (ONE), which works to end extreme poverty, particularly in Africa. While (ONE) addresses disease within its wide range of issues, (RED) focuses specifically on fighting HIV/AIDS, one of the most destructive pandemics in history that, despite the development of life-saving medication, still claims lives today.

The statistics are shocking. Since the virus was first identified, in 1984, more than 35 million people have died of HIV or AIDS. As of 2017, according to the World Health Organization, more than 37 million people worldwide are living with HIV/AIDS, and nearly 26 million of them—approximately 70 percent—live in sub-Saharan Africa. Every day, four hundred babies are born with HIV; every two minutes, a teenager is infected with HIV; and AIDS remains the leading cause of death for women around the world. All of this is preventable, but medication is often not available where it is most needed primarily because of its cost—a situation that (RED) is working hard to remedy. As Bono has succinctly stated, “Where you live shouldn’t determine whether you live.”

To date, (RED) has generated more than $500 million to support Global Fund grants that have provided nearly 110 million people with prevention treatment, counseling, HIV testing, and care services—an astronomical sum achieved largely by engaging many of the world’s most iconic brands to develop and sell (RED) products, from Product (RED) iPhones to Quip Product (RED) toothbrushes, coupling the purchase of a beautifully designed object with the action of providing humanitarian aid. These companies contribute a portion of their profits to (RED), which directs 100 percent of funds raised to its initiatives.

The money raised is a lifeline, literally, for so many people.


Continuing its strategy of mobilizing the private sector for the public good, (RED) has also marshaled the considerable financial power of the art market in its fight against AIDS. On December 5, the organization will hold its third auction of contemporary art and design at the Art Basel art fair in Miami Beach, with the help of some of the world’s leading names in the field: Gagosian will host the preview exhibition, Sotheby’s will present the auction, and artist Theaster Gates and architect Sir David Adjaye have co-curated the selection of works donated by major artists.

The two previous iterations of the (RED) auction—in 2008 and 2013—have set the bar high for art world charity efforts. The inaugural auction was organized by Bono and guest curator Damien Hirst, a longtime friend of the musician and a dedicated AIDS activist. Hirst rallied his artist friends and colleagues to give to the cause, and more than sixty of them donated a total of eighty-two works; Hirst himself gave six paintings and a sculpture. In 2013 Bono asked design superstars Marc Newson and Jony Ive to co-curate a selection of exceptional objects. They assembled forty-three pieces, many of which were customized or made specifically for the auction, including two items fashioned by Newson and Ive: a Leica digital rangefinder camera and a precision-machined aluminum desk, both of which were created in unique editions for the event.

Together, these two auctions raised $68 million—which, like the funds from (RED) products, has gone entirely toward (RED) initiatives, and therefore directly to saving lives. “The money raised is a lifeline, literally, for so many people, but nights like this also serve as a reminder of the historical opportunity we have to end AIDS,” Bono said of the 2013 event. “We are at a tipping point in the history of this tiny little virus that has wreaked so much havoc. We have to make sure the Global Fund has the money it needs or we could fail.”

(RED) Auction 2018

Jennifer Guidi, Energy of Love (Painted Universe Mandala SF #4F, Red, Natural Ground), 2018, oil, acrylic, and sand on linen, 92 × 74 inches (233.7 × 188 cm). Photo: Brica Wilcox

This year’s preview will open in Gagosian’s viewing room at Miami’s iconic Moore Building on December 1—World AIDS Day, an annual event established in 1988 for people worldwide to come together in the fight against HIV, support those infected, and remember those who have died from the virus. The curators have selected works centered on the themes of red and light. Speaking about this year’s theme, Bono has said, “The spaces that Theaster and Sir David build convey a sense of awe, of illumination. Which is the sensibility they’ll bring to (RED)’s auction when they shine their light on the AIDS crisis—which is at risk of slipping back into the shadows.” The cause has personal significance for both curators. Adjaye was born in Tanzania to Ghananian parents, spent his early childhood in Africa, and today has an office in Accra; as such, he grew up amid the crisis, and the fight against it remains of great importance to him. Mr. Gates founded and leads the Rebuild Foundation in Chicago. Part of the funds raised by this year’s auction will go to that organization to provide health education to youth, thereby expanding the auction’s reach.

(RED) Auction 2018

Sir Jony Ive and Marc Newson, The (RED) Diamond Ring, 2018, Diamond Foundry®–created diamond

Gagosian selected the Moore Building for its four floors of arcaded spaces, topped by a central atrium. It is a fitting venue for the collection of thirty-two red, light-filled, and light-inspired works assembled by Adjaye and Gates. Highlights include a ring created by Ive and Newson, made of a diamond grown from a carbon seed. Sean Scully has given a stunning geometric painting in shades of red. Jennifer Guidi has made a signature textural composition in a bright burst of red. Also among the spectacular design objects are a table designed by Zaha Hadid, manufactured in red exclusively for the auction, and unique versions of Adjaye’s own designs, specifically a red model of his Corona table and Skeleton chairs.

(RED) Auction 2018

Zaha Hadid, Liquid Glacial Colour Coffee Table, 2012, acrylic, 15 ¾ × 106 ¼ × 35 ⅜ inches (40 × 270 × 92.5 cm), unique version. Photo: David Gil Gallery

(RED) Auction 2018

Sir David Adjaye, Washington Skeleton™ (RED) Side Chairs, 2013, die-cast aluminum with mortise and tenon joint connections, chrome, and red lacquered finish, set of 4, each: 32 ½ × 18 × 20 ¼ inches (82.6 × 45.7 × 51.4 cm), unique edition. Photo: Ilan Rubin

“Art intimates and needs reaction, Art needs to be the transformative presence, a quality it shares with grace, which itself is on the lookout for the lost,” Bono wrote in 2008. With the support of Gagosian, Sotheby’s, this year’s co-curators, and the artists who generously donated their work—as well as all those who take part in the third (RED) auction on December 5—the event is set to be another resounding success, raising much-needed funds to benefit the fight against AIDS.

(RED) Auction 2018

Theaster Gates, A Flag for the Least of Them, 2018, decommissioned fire hoses, 59 ⅞ × 84 ⅝ inches (152 × 215 cm)

Photos: courtesy Sotheby’s; (RED) Auction exhibition: December 1–7, 2018, The Moore Building, Miami; online auction: November 12–December 7, 2018; live auction: December 5, 2018

Photograph of Serpertine Pavilion designed by Theaster Gates © Theaster Gates Studio. Photo: Iwan Baan, courtesy: Serpentine

Hans Ulrich Obrist’s Questionnaire: Theaster Gates

In this ongoing series, curator Hans Ulrich Obrist has devised a set of thirty-seven questions that invite artists, authors, musicians, and other visionaries to address key elements of their lives and creative practices. Respondents are invited to make a selection from the larger questionnaire and to reply in as many or as few words as they desire. For this installment, we are honored to present the artist Theaster Gates, whose Serpentine Pavilion 2022 Black Chapel opened in London on June 10.

Takashi Murakami cover and Andreas Gursky cover for Gagosian Quarterly, Summer 2022 magazine

Now available
Gagosian Quarterly Summer 2022

The Summer 2022 issue of Gagosian Quarterly is now available, with two different covers—featuring Takashi Murakami’s 108 Bonnō MURAKAMI.FLOWERS (2022) and Andreas Gursky’s V & R II (2022).

Theaster Gates, A Song for Frankie, 2017–21, 5,000 records, DJ booth, and record player

Social Works: The Archives of Frankie Knuckles Organized by Theaster Gates

Theaster Gates, steward of the Frankie Knuckles record collection, is engaging with the late DJ and musician’s archive of records, ephemera, and personal effects. For the Quarterly’s “Social Works” supplement, guest edited by Antwaun Sargent, Gates presents a selection of Knuckles’s personal record collection. Chantala Kommanivanh, a Chicago-based artist, educator, and musician—and the records manager for Rebuild Foundation, Chicago—provides annotations, contextualizing these records’ importance and unique qualities. Ron Trent, a dear friend of Knuckles’s, speaks to the legacy evinced by these materials.

Edmund de Waal and Theaster Gates

Artist to Artist: Edmund de Waal and Theaster Gates

Join the artists for an extended conversation about their most recent exhibitions, their forebears in the world of ceramics, and the key role that history plays in their practices.

The crowd at the public funeral of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., in April 1968. Photo by Moneta Sleet Jr.

Now available
Gagosian Quarterly Fall 2020

The Fall 2020 issue of Gagosian Quarterly is now available.

Photo: Moneta Sleet, Jr., 1965. Johnson Publishing Company Archive. Courtesy Ford Foundation, J. Paul Getty Trust, John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and Smithsonian Institution.

Theaster Gates: Black Image Corporation

As a prelude to his first-ever solo exhibition in New York, Theaster Gates discusses his prescient work with the photographic archive of Chicago’s Johnson Publishing Company and his formation of Black Image Corporation as a conceptual project. In conversation with Louise Neri, he expands on his strategies as artist and social innovator in his quest to redeem and renew the sacred power of Black images and Black space. 

The inside of Theaster Gates’s Black Vessel for a Saint sculpture

How to Renew the Color of Bricks

Social historian Chris Dingwall reflects on Theaster Gates’s engagement with the history of quotidian materials, focusing on the symbolic qualities and function of his brick-based sculpture.

Theaster Gates in his studio

Theaster Gates: Black Vessel

Join Theaster Gates in his studio as he prepares for an upcoming exhibition at Gagosian, New York. In this video, shot on location in Chicago during the tumultuous weeks of protest in late spring 2020, Gates reflects on the metaphorical power of materials and process, and on the redemptive potential of art.

Jennifer Guidi, We Shine Outward Into the Universe (Gemini and Cancer), 2019.

Twelve Tracks: Jennifer Guidi

Jennifer Guidi shares a selection of the music she listens to in the studio and speaks about its connection to her meditative painting process.

Jennifer Guidi in her Los Angeles studio, 2020.

Jennifer Guidi

The artist speaks with Laura Fried about her most recent paintings, the symbol of the serpent, and her evolving relationship to color.

The cover of the Spring 2020 edition of the Gagosian Quarterly magazine. A Cindy Sherman photograph of herself dressed as a clown against a rainbow background.

Now available
Gagosian Quarterly Spring 2020

The Spring 2020 issue of Gagosian Quarterly is now available, featuring Cindy Sherman’s Untitled #412 (2003) on its cover.

Anselm Kiefer, Volkszählung (Census), 1991, steel, lead, glass, peas, and photographs, 163 ⅜ × 224 ½ × 315 inches (4.1 × 5.7 × 8 m)/

Cast of Characters

James Lawrence explores how contemporary artists have grappled with the subject of the library.