African-American art at Swann on March 31


Norman Lewis, Untitled (Rhododendrons), oil on canvas, circa 1948. Estimate $350,000 to $500,000.

New York-african american art is proposed Thursday, March 31st at Swann Galleries. The spring offering will include many rare and important modern, post-war and contemporary works of art, including 28 lots from a distinguished private collection.

The sale is dominated by a large painting from 1948 by Norman Lewis between $350,000 and $500,000. This striking organic abstraction is based on the rhododendron plants in his New York studio. As an anthophile and plant man, Lewis revisited the subject many times in the late 1940s, using the subject as a way to explore his use of black and a darker color palette, as well as natural forms that characterize his first abstract period. . Lewis also offers several works on paper in oil and ink: jazz quartet, 1952 ($30,000-40,000); and two untitled works from 1957 and 1972 that reflect the evolution of his practice ($10,000-15,000 each).

Other modern and post-war highlights include The hunt, oil on board, by Bob Thompson ($30,000-40,000). This expressionist painting is a rare and early work from Thompson’s brief but significant period in Provincetown in the summer of 1958. Kenneth Victor Young is offered with night thrust, a quintessential 1972 tinted abstract canvas with dark, floating orbs and vivid colors in deep hues of magenta, blue and black ($50,000-75,000), and a similar 1971 acrylic on paper in blue and yellow ($15,000-25,000). Also note that of Ed Clark Space Image IIIa large 1982 example of his “push-broom” abstract work in pigment on paper ($100,000-150,000), and works by Alma Thomas, Beauford Delaney, Thomas Sills, and Sam Gilliam, among others.

Mequitta Ahuja, Bramble, oil on canvas, 2009. Estimate $30,000 to $40,000.

Among the figurative works is that of James Lesesne Well Interlude, oil on canvas, 1949 ($30,000-40,000); by Elizabeth Catlett Untitled (Young Woman Looking Up), tempera on paper, mounted on cardboard, 1954 ($75,000-100,000); and a selection of works by Hughie Lee-Smith that acutely capture people’s loneliness and absence, including Dilemmaoil on canvas, 1997 ($40,000-60,000), and Consequencesoil on canvas, 1960, formerly in the collection of the Johnson Publishing Company ($120,000-180,000).

Contemporary Art will feature a selection of works from a distinguished private collection, including paintings, photographs and prints. Highlights include Mequitta Ahujait’s Bramble, oil on canvas, 2009; At Mickalene Thomas Liz and chair with zebra, c-print, 2013 ($30,000-40,000); and Awol Erizku Boy holding grapes, digital c-print, 2012 ($15,000-25,000), plus art by Kara Walker, Carrie Mae Weems, Barbara Bullock. Glenn Ligon, Hank Willis Thomas and many more. Other contemporary highlights include two wonderful early 1980s mixed media assemblages by Howardena Pindell: Disguised War Games II1980-81, and Hide, 1980-82 ($40,000-60,000 each); by Emma Amos High step, a 1983 multimedia work on paper ($30,000-40,000); and Intolerance, a 1998 collography with surreal overtones by Belkis Ayón ($35,000-50,000).

Exhibition hours are 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. March 28-30. The live online auction platforms will be the Swann Galleries App, Invaluable and Live Auctioneers. The full catalog and auction information is available at and on the Swann Galleries app.


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