New York — The Fall Sale of African American art is at Galeries Swann Thursday October 7 with market and home favorites coming back up for auction. The sale will feature works by modern and contemporary artists, ranging from abstract to figurative and sculptural works.
Mid-century abstraction is at the center of the auction with works by artists essential to the canon. Hale woodruffmajestic oil on canvas by Carnival, circa 1958 — the largest of Woodruff’s abstractions to be auctioned, which has not been shown publicly for over 70 years — is offered ($ 250,000 to $ 350,000). Two important abstract oil paintings by Norman Lewis illustrate his early work in Abstract Expressionism in New York with the first, a rare oil-on-panel abstraction from 1947 based on the iron of New York’s doors and gates ($ 60,000-90,000); the second an example of Lewis’ abstract idiom from the early 1950s, Time spent, an oil on canvas from around 1950 in which he painted finely on a linen canvas to create subtle atmospheric effects depicting natural phenomena ($ 150,000 to $ 250,000); as well as a selection of works on paper by the artist spanning three decades.
The additional abstraction of the note includes a series of works by Sam Gilliam, including Red red, a 1989 acrylic on canvas and a printed aluminum construction ($ 50,000-70,000); Charles Alston with Moon Haze (Standing in the moonlight), oil on canvas, 1960 ($ 80,000 to $ 120,000); and an offer of works by Romare Bearden with Ritual bayou, 1971, a rare complete set of six edited collages from Bearden’s brief experimentation with edited collages, standing out among the works ($ 30,000- $ 50,000).
The figurative works are directed by Hughie Lee-Smith with Recall, oil on canvas, 1989 ($ 40,000- $ 60,000), and a rare example of Lee-Smith’s early works in Detroit Untitled (Portrait of a young girl), oil on masonite, 1949 ($ 20,000-30,000). Ernie Barnes, known for his striking artwork depicting athletes, is present with two compelling images of football players in the middle of the game: Loose ball, oil on canvas, 1971 ($ 15,000 to $ 25,000) and an untitled 1971 oil on canvas ($ 20,000 to $ 30,000). Paul F. Keene, Jr. is nominated with The Guitarist (Jazz Icon Series), acrylic on paper, 1985 ($ 20,000-30,000), alongside Claude Clark The plough, oil on burlap, 1944 ($ 20,000-30,000) and Bob Thompson Tree god, oil on wood, 1960 ($ 30,000-40,000). Contemporary examples include works by Emma Amos, notably Peas, a color monotype circa 1985 with colored pastels and a stencil on paper ($ 8,000 to $ 12,000), and Robert Neal’s Street people, a 1986 oil on canvas of a winter scene ($ 20,000-30,000).
The highlights of the assemblage include sought-after artists such as Howardena pindell with Untitled # 57, a fine example of Pindell’s work with perforated paper from 1974 ($ 30,000 to $ 40,000); Noah Purifoy with The flag, a 2001 fabric assemblage of deconstructed strips of the American flag, allegedly made in response to the events of September 11 ($ 15,000 to $ 25,000); and Timothy Washington with Triptych, a 1968 aluminum print mounted on wood panels ($ 50,000 to $ 75,000).
The sculpture includes works ranging from the Harlem Renaissance to mid-century and contemporary works, including sculptures by Richmond Barthé, Elizabeth catlett and Simone Leigh. Barthé is offered with his iconic male figure Wild benga, modeled in 1935, cast around 1960 ($ 75,000 to $ 100,000), and the very rare female figure, Black majesty, 1969 ($ 35,000- $ 50,000). From Catlett, To manage, circa 1943, one of the only two sculpted limestone sculptures known to the artist ($ 150,000 to $ 250,000), and the astonishing Shirtless, 1994, in a rich black marble ($ 750,000 to $ 100,000). Highlights of contemporary sculpture are two salt-fired glazed stoneware works by Simone Leigh, a dark gray vessel, circa 2004 ($ 75,000 to $ 100,000) and a cowrie shell, circa 2011-12 (30,000 to 40 $ 000).
A selection of twenty-three modern and contemporary works of art consigned to support the Brandywine Workshop in Philadelphia and its heritage endowment campaign will be included in the sale. Highlights feature prints by Emma Amos, Belkis Ayón, Samella Lewis, Richard Mayhew and Stanley Whitney, and paintings by Floyd Newsum and Paul Keene.
Limited exhibition hours will be available October 4-6. Appointments are strongly encouraged and can be made directly with a specialist. Swann Galleries staff will prepare condition reports and provide additional photographs of material upon request. Advance auctions can be placed with a sales specialist or on the Swann website, and telephone auctions will be possible. The live online auction platforms will be the Swann Galleries app, Invaluable and Live Auctioneers. The full catalog and information on offers are available at www.swanngalleries.com and on the Swann Galleries app.