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The Lowdown on Investment: Derrick Adams
Editorial / Artists

The Lowdown on Investment: Derrick Adams

16 Mar 2023 | 5 min read

Humble, passionate and accomplished, Derrick Adams is committed to being a Black joy artist. His subtle philosophy of depicting Black figures and faces in states of "just being" is a proven hit with collectors and investors alike. Continue reading to find out five reasons to be investing in Adams' work.


1. Artistic Excellence


Derrick Adams is a highly regarded artist known for his multimedia approach to art and representation of contemporary Black life and culture through his works. With a BFA from Pratt University, an MFA from Columbia University and an internationally renowned artistic career, Adams is also a professor at CUNY Brooklyn College.

In the past few years, Adams has held numerous solo exhibitions at institutions such as The FLAG Art Foundation, New York, The Cleveland Museum of Art, Hudson River Museum, Yonkers and the Museum of Arts and Design, New York.

And as if that wasn’t enough, he also established the Charm City Cultural Cultivation in 2022 – an organisation designed to support and encourage underserved communities in Baltimore.

Derrick Adams in studio with Life of the Party, 2020

Derrick Adams in studio with Life of the Party, 2020

Via Hirshhorn Museum

2. Popularity


Adams' works are in high demand and fetch high prices at auctions, making them a potentially lucrative investment. His work is popular among art collectors and enthusiasts, further driving demand for his pieces.

As of March 2023, the Gagosian proudly announced the global representation of Adams with a debut exhibition of new paintings to be presented in Beverly Hills in September 2023.

Around the same time as this announcement, a work on paper entitled Style Variation 4 sold for, over three times its high estimate at Phillips, New York for $215,900. The current record, however, was set in 2021 for his 2019 painting entitled Figure In the Urban Landscape which sold at $250,000.

Derrick Adams, Figure In The Urban Landscape 31 sold for $250,000 at Christie's in 2019

Derrick Adams, Figure In The Urban Landscape 31 sold for $250,000 at Christie's in 2019

via Christie's

Interior Life (Man) - HC

Derrick Adams

Interior Life (Man) - HC

  • 2019
  • Pigment print on paper
  • Hors de Commerce of 5
  • Signed and numbered by the artist
  • 46cm x 61cm
  • Sold framed

£3,995

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Derrick Adams – Interior Life (Man) - HC

Interior Life (Man) - HC

For the 2019 exhibition “Interior Life,” at Luxembourg + Co. in New York, Adams created room-size wallpaper installations of imagined domestic interiors, with collaged portraits hung throughout. He chose this striking pair of portraits — a male and a female in profile – to be produced as limited-edition prints.

3. Cultural Value


Adams addresses themes of race, identity and equality in his work, making it significant in today's contemporary art world.

Style Variations is a series of portraits depicting the Black community’s empowering yet complicated relationship with hairstyling and wig-wearing. Although, at the heart of these and many more of Adams’ works is joy and possibility; for him, there is much more value in proactively presenting Black normalcy.

Another notable series of works, Floaters, features Black figures relaxing in water on various vibrantly coloured inflatables. Adams describes this presentation of Black leisure as radical or revolutionary and hopes to inspire future generations of artists with this notion.

"I feel more than ever that it is essential for artists to make work that celebrates Black culture. As a Black man, I am aware of my vulnerability and susceptibility to trauma and oppression on a daily basis...there are images that are less important for us to see than images of joy."

Derrick Adams

4. Aesthetic Appeal


Adams' typical style is to use bold, colourful geometric shapes and incorporates elements of pop culture, historical references, and found objects. His works are visually striking and appeal to a wide range of audiences, from art enthusiasts to design fans.

Live and in Color, his 2014 show at New York’s Tilton Gallery, projected Adams to widespread critical acclaim and is a perfect example of his abstract and dynamic style. Using recycled images from sitcoms, game shows, and dramas, he created collages of his material and presented them in a vintage television set. His exaggerated approach parallels over-the-top broadcast introductions of early television announcers, making reference to a time period in which Black stereotypes were too exaggerated and false.

Installation view of LIVE and IN COLOR by Derrick Adams at Tilton Gallery, New York.

Installation view of LIVE and IN COLOR by Derrick Adams at Tilton Gallery, New York.

Courtesy Tilton Gallery

Derrick Adams, They All Want Cake, 2014, mixed media collage

Derrick Adams, They All Want Cake, 2014, mixed media collage

Via The New York Times

5. Versatility


Paintings, sculptures, collages, performances, videos, and public projects – Adams works in a variety of mediums, making his portfolio diverse and appealing to a wide audience.

Aside from his popular, vivid paintings, Adams has been busy working on public art projects across the US. His most recent, titled The City Is My Refuge, presents Adams’ signature, structured portraits as digital prints posted all around Penn Station’s public waiting areas, following the shapes of the building’s architecture. The faces emerge from patterns of green foliage, with the aim of reuniting busy commuters with the natural world.

Adams also brought joy to the Rockefeller Center during the summer of 2022 through his installation of Funtime Unicorns. By installing this children's playground of decorated unicorns, this exhibit was a chance for him to reach new younger audiences and continue experimenting with different installation formats.

Derrick Adams, The City Is My Refuge, Penn Station NY
Derrick Adams, The City Is My Refuge, Penn Station NY

Derrick Adams, The City Is My Refuge, Penn Station NY

David Plakke

Derrick Adams, Funtime Unicorns at the Rockerfeller Center

Derrick Adams, Funtime Unicorns at the Rockerfeller Center

via Derrick Adams website

Good Luck Charm

Derrick Adams

Good Luck Charm

  • 2021
  • PU and mixed media
  • Edition of 60
  • Signed and numbered certificate of authenticity
  • 16cm x 28cm x 16cm

£4,125

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Derrick Adams – Good Luck Charm

Good Luck Charm

Good Luck Charm is a highly-collectable, editioned object of a black unicorn and is a progression of Adams' iconic 'Floaters' series. He says: "The work in this series is intended to connect with people on an emotional level and tap into their lived experiences. Rarer than the traditional unicorn we all know, I created the black unicorn as a unique object to bring you good luck."

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