Friday, September 5, 2014

Weschler's Fall Auction to Feature African American Artists

Weschler's has been an auction tradition in the Nation's Capital for over 120 years. As Washington D.C.'s only auction house, Weschler's has been in the unique position to auction, over the years, property from many prominent local estates. They hold at least 6 Capital Collections estate auctions each season which feature European and American furniture and decorations; paintings, prints, drawings and sculpture; jewelry, coins and watches; 20th century decorative arts; Asian works of art; and rugs, carpets and tapestries. 

Weschler's fall auction which will be held on September 19th will begin its 2014-2015 season, and among the offerings in their upcoming  Capital Collections Estate Auction, Sale 1417 will be an important selection of 20thcentury African American works of art cultivated from prominent Washington, D.C. collections. The following artists are represented from those collections: Elizabeth Catlett, Lois Mailou Jones, Alma Woodsey Thomas, Sam Gilliam, Romare Bearden, and Joseph Holston. 

This post features highlights of Sale 1417. Two notable sculptures by artist and activist, Elizabeth Catlett, come to auction from the esteemed collection of her personal friend and civil rights pioneer, the Reverend Douglas Moore and his wife, Dr. Doris Hughes-Moore. 
 
Elizabeth Catlett, Bust of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Bronze with a green patina, 1990, 18½"x14"x12". Property of  Reverend Douglas Moore and Dr. Doris Hughes-Moore Collection. Image: Weschler's Auctioneers and Appraisers


Lot 393  Elizabeth Catlett   Bust of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. 
This bust is bronze with a green patina on a black marble plinth base; it has an estimate of $50,000 - $70,000. The catalogue notes that a second version  of this sculpture can be found at the King Arts Complex in Columbus, Ohio. 

Elizabeth Catlett, Female Torso, Marble on wood base, height: 14". Property of Reverend Douglas Moore and Dr. Doris Hughes-Moore Collection. Image: Weschler's Auctioneers and Appraisers


Lot 394  A second sculpture from the Moore Collection is a Female Torso by Elizabeth Catlett. This marble sculpture on a wood base has an auction estimate of $30,000 - $40,000. Female Torso serves as the cover image of the Capital Collections Estate Auction catalogue.

Alma Woodsey Thomas, Untitled, Watercolor on paper, sight size: 30"x 22". Property of George R. Rhodes, Jr., Revocable Trust. Image: Weschler's Auctioneers and Appraisers
Lot 397 This watercolor, Untitled, by Alma Woodsey Thomas is from the George R. Rhodes, Jr., Revocable Trust. Dated from 1960, the watercolor on paper has an estimate of $10,000 - $15,000. There is a catalogue note that a second painting depicting a study for a double portrait can be found on verso.
 

Sam Gilliam, Misty, Acrylic on canvas, 53"x 66". Property of George R. Rhodes, Jr., Revocable Trust. Image: Weschler's Auctioneers and Appraisers

Lot 400  Another piece of art from the Rhodes Trust is lot 400 entitled Misty by Sam Gilliam. This acrylic on canvas is dated 1969 and has an auction estimate of $20,000 - $30,000.

For a full range of available art by African American artists, see lots 393 - 402.

As a convenience to clients who cannot attend the auction, Weschler's offers telephone bids or will execute absentee bids without charge. In addition, buyers may bid live on Invaluable. Please visit Invaluable to register for the auction and bid live along with those in the auction house and on the telephone. Read more about buying at Weschler's. For additional information on bidding, contact: 202/ 628-1281.   

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

David Huffman: Artist Talk




 

  The Beauty of Affliction           Crystal Meth          Meth Series                

Basketball          Index of Colors          Smoky, Atmospheric        

Emotional State of the Painting          Dichotomy Between Hard and Soft

Social Abstraction          Reduce Vocabulary 

Monday, July 21, 2014

Black Art Project (BAP) Booklist 6

This is the sixth in a continuing series, highlighting either recently published books or those that are forthcoming, that have an African American art focus. When building a personal library that has some focus on African American visual art, it is advisable to make your book purchases shortly after the book or catalogue has been published. Making an early purchase more readily assures you that the titles you are interested in have not gone out of print. When a title does go out of print, the secondary market becomes a viable option; however, you must then weigh cost and condition differences among the few dealers that may have a copy for sale. I can not over emphasize that fine art books are published in smaller print runs than books in other subject disciplines.

The following post and the addendum of recent publications are simply a few new titles that have been released since the last Booklist, consisting of a compilation of reviews from various publishers' notes and other source materials: 

Archibald Motley: Jazz Age Modernist



The catalogue, Archibald Motley: Jazz Age Modernist, accompanies the first full-scale survey of the work of Archibald Motley and features more than 140 color illustrations. It was on view at the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University from January 30 through May 11, 2014. The catalogue includes an essay by Richard J. Powell, organizer and curator of Archibald Motley: Jazz Age Modernist, as well as contributions from other scholars examining the life, work, and legacy of one of twentieth-century America's most significant artists. After its debut at the Nasher Museum of Art, the exhibition travels to other museums across the country: the Amon Carter Museum of American Art in Fort Worth, Texas; the Los Angeles County Museum of Art; the Chicago Cultural Center; and the Newark Museum.


Archibald John Motley, Jr., was an American painter, master colorist, and radical interpreter of urban culture. Among twentieth-century American artists, Motley is surely one of the most important and, paradoxically, also one of the most enigmatic. Born in New Orleans in 1891, Motley spent the first half of the twentieth century living and working in a predominately white neighborhood on Chicago's South Side, just blocks away from the city's burgeoning black community. During his formative years, Chicago's African American population increased dramatically, and he was both a witness to and a visual chronicler of that expansion. In 1929 he won a Guggenheim Fellowship, which funded a critical year of study in France, where he painted Blues and other memorable pictures of Paris. In the 1950s, Motley made several lengthy visits to Mexico, where his nephew, the well-known novelist Willard F. Motley, lived. While there, Motley created vivid depictions of Mexican life and landscapes. He died in Chicago in 1981.

Motley's brilliant yet idiosyncratic paintings—simultaneously expressionist and social realist—have captured worldwide attention with their rainbow-hued, syncopated compositions. The exhibition includes the artist's depictions of African American life in early-twentieth-century Chicago, as well as his portraits and archetypes, portrayals of African American life in Jazz Age Paris, and renderings of 1950s Mexico. 

This is a publication of the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University.


Barbara Chase-Riboud: The Malcolm X Steles


This catalogue was published by the Philadelphia Museum of Art in association with Yale University Press in 2013. It focuses on Chase-Riboud's monumental series of sculptures dedicated to the assassinated civil rights leader Malcolm X. Begun in 1969, Chase-Riboud's series is explored in terms of developing artistic practice; her travels to China and North Africa; and her experiences in Europe, particularly during the cultural, political, and social upheavals of the 1960s. The volume also includes a fascinating analysis of the Malcolm X sculptures in light of critical debates on abstract art’s role in memorializing the past. 

Beautifully designed and produced, this book presents an illustrated checklist of the 13 sculptures in the series, related drawings and sculptures, and a chronology of Chase-Riboud’s life and career.
 

Bound to Appear: Art, Slavery, and the Site of Blackness in Multicultural America                                                                      


At the close of the twentieth century, black artists began to figure prominently in the mainstream American art world for the first time. Thanks to the social advances of the civil rights movement and the rise of multiculturalism, African American artists in the late 1980s and early 90s enjoyed unprecedented access to established institutions of publicity and display. Yet in this moment of ostensible freedom, black cultural practitioners found themselves turning to the history of slavery.

Bound to Appear focuses on four of these artists—Renée Green, Glenn Ligon, Lorna Simpson, and Fred Wilson—who have dominated and shaped the field of American art over the past two decades through large-scale installations that radically departed from prior conventions for representing the enslaved. Huey Copeland shows that their projects draw on strategies associated with minimalism, conceptualism, and institutional critique to position the slave as a vexed figure—both subject and object, property and person. They also engage the visual logic of race in modernity and the challenges negotiated by black subjects in the present. As such, Copeland argues, their work reframes strategies of representation and rethinks how blackness might be imagined and felt long after the end of the “peculiar institution.” The first book to examine in depth these artists’ engagements with slavery, Bound to Appear will leave an indelible mark on modern and contemporary art.


Ellen Gallagher: Don't Axe ME

Spanning the past twenty years, Don’t Axe Me will provide one of the first opportunities to thoroughly examine the complex formal and
thematic concerns of one of the most significant artists to emerge since the mid-1990s. The title of the exhibition, Don’t Axe Me, evokes her radical approach to image, text, and surface—drawing equally from modernism, mass culture, and social history. This focused survey was at the New Museum and ran concurrently with Gallagher’s exhibition at the Tate Modern, London (May 2013). For the first major New York museum exhibition of her work at New Museum, "Gallagher produced a series of new paintings that both extend her formal and thematic interests and mark a radical new development. Each of the pieces consists of tendril-like formations incised into layers of paint. This complex series is featured in this catalogue along with a booklet of her work from 1993-2009."


Lorna Simpson: Works on Paper


Published on the occasion of her 2013 exhibition at Aspen Art Museum, Lorna Simpson: Works on Paper highlights four recent bodies of work on paper that explore the complex relationship between the photographic archive and processes of self-fashioning, including a new group of works being developed during her time as the Aspen Art Museum's 2013 Jane and Marc Nathanson Distinguished Artist in Residence. As in Simpson's earlier works, these new drawings and collages take the African-American woman as a point of departure, continuing her longstanding examination of the ways that gender and culture shape the experience of life in our contemporary multiracial society. This beautifully illustrated catalogue features new scholarship by a number of contributors, such as New Yorker staff writer Hilton Als, MoMA Chief Curator of Drawings, Connie Butler, LACMA Chief Curator of Contemporary Art, Franklin Sirmans, and others.
  
San Francisco Lithographer: African American Artist Grafton Tyler Brown 

In this biography, Robert J. Chandler focuses on Grafton Tyler Brown’s
lithography and his life in nineteenth-century San Francisco, offering a study equally fascinating as a business and cultural history and as an
introduction to Brown the artist.

Chandler’s contextualization of Brown’s career goes beyond the issue of
race. Showing how Brown survived and flourished as a businessman,

Chandler offers unique insight into the growth of printing and publishing in California and the West. He examines the rise of lithography, its commercial and cultural importance, and the competition among lithographic companies. He also analyzes Brown’s work and style, comparing it to the products of rival firms. 

Brown was not respected as a fine artist until after his death. Collectors of western art and Americana now recognize the importance of California and of Brown’s work, some of which depicts Portland and the Pacific Northwest, and they will find Chandler’s checklist, descriptions, and reproductions of Brown’s ephemera—including billheads and maps—as uniquely valuable as Chandler’s contribution to the cultural and commercial history of California. In an afterword, historian Shirley Ann Wilson Moore discusses the circumstances and significance of passing in nineteenth-century America.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Results of Swann's African-American Fine Art Sale 2353

Swann Auction Galleries' African-American Fine Art Sale 2353 held on June 10th brought in $1,242,626 with buyer’s premium, almost reaching its pre-sale low estimates ($1,251,700) for the sale as a whole. Of the 157 lots that were offered at auction, 118 sold (75% sell-through rate by lot). According to Nigel Freeman, Director of African-American Fine Art at Swann Galleries, “This was an exciting auction with enthusiastic bidding on scarce works. We are very happy to continue setting benchmarks for artists long overdue, including significant records for Noah Purifoy and Walter Williams. The sale also built on previous prices with strong results for William T. Williams, Sam Gilliam, Hughie Lee-Smith and Norman Lewis.”

Select highlights from The Shape of Things to Come: African-American Fine Art (Sale 2353) are featured in this post, focusing to a large extent on the lots featured in a May 25th post introducing this Sale.  All price quotes for art sold include buyer's premium.

Lot 22 Hughie Lee-Smith, Rooftops
 

Hughie Lee-Smith, Rooftops, Oil on linen canvas, 1961, 24"x 18". Image: Swann Auction Galleries
Rooftops had a high estimate of $35,000, and it sold to a collector for $37,500, including buyer's premium.  


Lot 45 Noah Purifoy, Untitled: Standing Figure  

Noah Purifoy, Untitled: Standing Figure, Assemblage construction, circa 1968-70, 51½"x 15"x 12". Image: Swann Auction Galleries
The figurative sculpture, Standing Figure, which was acquired directly from Purifoy by sculptor Artis Lane, had a low estimate of $60,000; it sold to a collector for $62,500. This was an artist record for Noah Purifoy.


Lot 61 William T. Williams, Truckin  
 
William T. Williams, Truckin, Acrylic 0n cotton canvas, 1969, 84"x 60". Image: Swann Auction Galleries
Truckin, a significant early painting by William T. Williams, is his earliest painting to date to come to auction. Truckin had the highest selling price for piece of art in this sale, capturing an artist record for William T. Williams. Lot 61 had a high estimate of $100,000, and it sold to an institution for $137,000.




Lot 80 Barkley L. Hendricks, Sergio 
Barkley L. Hendricks, Sergio, Oil and acrylic on linen canvas, 1972, 60"x 44". Image: Swann Auction Galleries
Sergio has an extensive museum exhibition history, extending from early 1970s through 2010. Sergio was the second highest piece of art sold in this sale; it had an estimate of $80,000 - $120,000.  Lot 80, surpassing its low estimate, sold to a dealer for $106,250.


Lot 119 Elizabeth Catlett, Standing Figure and Lot 144 Reclined Figure

Elizabeth Catlett, Standing Figure, Carved tropical wood and black enamel, 1986, 18"x 7"x 4¼". Image: Swann Auction Galleries


Elizabeth Catlett, Reclining Figure, Black marble, 2005, 32"x 15"x 11½". Image: Swann Auction Galleries

Lot 119, Standing Figure, one of the two important late-career sculptures by Elizabeth Catlett in Sale 2353 was unsold. The second, Reclined Figure, in black marble, surpassed its high estimate of $90,000, and sold to a collector for $93,750. 



Lot 27 Walter Williams, Southern Landscape
Walter Williams, Southern Landscape, Oil and collage on masonite board, 1963-64, 33"x 29". Image: Swann Auction Galleries
Southern Landscape could be described as Walter Williams' most important painting, as it is one of his best known artworks and a seminal one in his career. Lot 27, Southern Landscape, had an estimate of $20,000 - $30,000; it sold for $81,250 to a collector. Doubling its high estimate, this work set an artist record for Walter Williams. Southern Landscape was one of the three works that set an artist record; the other two were Standing Figure (Purifoy) and Truckin (William T. Williams). 

SEE Final Results for all lots in Sale 2353

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Arcibald Motley: A Stroll, Parts 1 and 2



Premier Modernist       Improvising       Break with Academic Tradition
 
Transgressive Elements       Modern Artistic Statement    

Bronzeville       Black Urban Living       Urban Nocturnes

Painter Laureate of the Black Modern Cityscape  

Exhibition: 
Archibald Motley: Jazz Age Modernist on view June 14 through September 7, 2014 @ Amon Carter Museum of American Art

Archibald Motley: Jazz Age Modernist on view October 19, 2014 through February 1, 2015 @ LACMA (Los Angeles County Museum of Art)
Archibald Motley: Jazz Age Modernist
Archibald Motley: Jazz Age Modernist

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Swann Galleries: African-American Fine Art Sale 2353

Swann Auction Galleries will feature its latest African-American Fine Art sale on June 10, 2014. Sale 2353, which is entitled Shape of Things to Come, focuses on the rapid social and political changes in both the art world and the nation during the 1960s and 1970s. African American artists adapted to the times in the era of the Civil Rights Movement and Black Nationalism and a strong selection of works from those decades are represented in Sale 2353. Many of the artists included in this sale have been included in recent major museum exhibitions, representing a re-examination and study of their works.

The Shape of Things to Come consists of 158 lots and features works by Elizabeth Catlett, Barkley L. Hendricks, Noah Purifoy, William T. Williams, Norman Lewis, Faith Ringgold, Melvin Edwards, Bettye Saar, Charles White, Romare Bearden, Lorna Simpson, Richard Mayhew, Hughie Lee-Smith, and others.

A number of works in this sale have been in private collections, unseen by the general public, from 20 to over 50 years. The documentation of these works via photographs, established provenance, and identifying them as having been in major museum exhibitions add to their value. 

Selected highlights from Sale 2353 follow:

Hughie Lee-Smith, Rooftops, Oil on linen canvas, 1961, 24"x 18". Image: Swann Auction Galleries 

Lot 22 Hughie Lee-Smith, Rooftops
 
Rooftops is a fascinating example of Hughie Lee-Smith's early 1960s work in New York in which he continued to paint rooftop scenes as he had in Detroit. Rooftops shows Lee-Smith interest in portraying the changing urban environment, showing the deterioration of America's urban areas during periods of great growth and prosperity.  Lot 22 has an estimate of $25,000 - $35,000. 


Faith Ringgold, The American People Series #15: Hide Little Children, Oil on canvas, 1966, 26"x 48". Image: Swann Auction Galleries

Lot 35 Faith Ringgold, The American People Series #15: Hide Little Children

This painting is from Faith Ringgold's The American People Series that included approximately twenty paintings completed between 1963 and 1967. This was her first mature series of paintings and they displayed her pointed observations on race relations during the Civil Rights era. In the publication, Faith Ringgold, The David C. Driskell Series, author Lisa Farrington notes "despite their apparent playfulness, Ringgold used these charming faces as a smokescreen to obfuscate, but not completely veil, a vastly profound message- the shielding of America's youth from racial hatred." Lot 35 has an estimate of $35,000 - $50,000.  


Noah Purifoy, Untitled: Standing Figure, Assemblage construction, circa 1968-70, 51½"x 15"x 12". Image: Swann Auction Galleries
Lot 45 Noah Purifoy, Untitled: Standing Figure  

The figurative sculpture, Standing Figure, is an outstanding example of Noah Purifoy's important work in assemblage, and is the first significant work of the artist to come to auction. "By 1970, Purifoy had expanded his range of assemblage material to include diverse, organic materials such as leather, feathers, brass and copper. The enigmatic female figure, with leather breasts mounted on her flanks, and a dense decorative surface, reflects both the assemblage aesthetic and early Surrealist sculpture."

Lot 45, which was acquired directly from Purifoy by sculptor Artis Lane, has an estimate of $60,000 - $90,000.

William T. Williams, Truckin, Acrylic 0n cotton canvas, 1969, 84"x 60". Image: Swann Auction Galleries

Lot 61 William T. Williams, Truckin 

Truckin, a significant early painting by William T. Williams, is his earliest painting to date to come to auction. "It is an excellent example of Williams' first year of painting after completing his MFA from Yale University, with the imagery that quickly gained him an international recognition as an abstract painter in the late 1960s and early 1970s."

Lot 61 has an estimate of $75,000 - $100,000.


Barkley L. Hendricks, Sergio, Oil and acrylic on linen canvas, 1972, 60"x 44". Image: Swann Auction Galleries
 Lot 80 Barkley L. Hendricks, Sergio

Sergio has an extensive museum exhibition history, extending from early 1970s through 2010. This is a bold portrait by Barkley Hendricks that was painted at the beginning of his career, and is an excellent example of his trailblazing work in portraiture.  Sergio was executed during the time, spring of 1972, that Hendricks was finishing his MFA studies at Yale University.

Lot 80 has an estimate of $80,000 - $120,000.

 
Elizabeth Catlett, Standing Figure, Carved tropical wood and black enamel, 1986, 18"x 7"x 4¼". Image: Swann Auction Galleries

 
Elizabeth Catlett, Reclining Figure, Black marble, 2005, 32"x 15"x 11½". Image: Swann Auction Galleries

 Lot 119 Elizabeth Catlett, Standing Figure and Lot 144 Reclined Figure

There are two important late-career sculptures by Elizabeth Catlett, one, Standing Figure, in tropical wood and black enamel, 1986 (estimate $150,000 to $200,000); the other, Reclined Figure, in black marble, 2005 (estimate $60,000 to $90,000). These works embody Catlett’s expression of the female form found within the natural beauty of her materials.

The works will be on public exhibition at Swann Galleries, to check dates, see Preview Dates.  An illustrated auction catalogue, with information on bidding by mail or fax, is available for $35 from Swann Galleries, Inc., 104 East 25th Street, New York, NY 10010, or online.

For further information, and to make advance arrangements to bid by telephone during the auction, please contact Nigel Freeman at 212-254-4710, extension 33, or via email at nfreeman@swanngalleries.com.                                                     


Live online bidding is also available via invaluable.com.
 

Monday, May 5, 2014

Results of Swann's Printed and Manuscript African Americana Sale 2342

The Printed and Manuscript African Americana Sale 2342 was held on March 27, 2014 at Swann Auction Galleries. This was the 19th annual Printed and Manuscript African Americana Sale, and it included the largest number of lots (596) over the past decade, topping last year's auction which previously had the highest number of lots with 561. This demonstrates that there is still a strong and growing market of available African American historical items. Sale 2342 attracted many institutional bidders and saw record results for rare books and other publications. Wyatt Houston Day, Swann's African Americana specialist said, "We were very pleased to see so many of the top lots purchased by institutions, including a number of research-oriented lots. Among record-setting books were a Banneker Almanack, a rebound copy of Harriet Jacobs's Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, and an inscribed copy of Anna Julia Cooper's A Voice from the South."

Some highlights of Printed and Manuscript African Americana Sale 2342 follow: 
Lot 140Banneker's Almanack and Ephemeris for the Year of our Lord, 1793


Banneker's Almanack and Ephemeris for the Year of our Lord, 1793, Image: Swann Auction Galleries
This publication by self-taught astronomer, mathematician, surveyor and author Benjamin Banneker had not appeared in auction in the past 25 years; it contained a portion of a poem by Phillis Wheatley. Banneker helped with the survey of the Federal Territory that was to become the grid of Washington, D.C. Lot 140 exceeded its high estimate of $15,000 and sold for $52,500, including buyer premium.

Lot 98: Cooper, Anna Julia. A Voice from the South by a Woman of the South
Anna Julia Cooper, A Voice from the South by a Woman of the South. Image: Swann Auction Galleries
This was a first edition, presentation copy of a rare book, with a fine association. Loosely laid in was a pencil note in Cooper's hand presenting the book to an officer of the 29th Ohio Volunteers.  In addition, it was inscribed on the title-page. With an estimate of $6,000 - $8,000, the book almost doubled its high estimate when it sold for $15,000 with buyer's premium.

Lot 164: Richard McCrary's I am a Black Woman! Poster depicting Angela Davis
Poster depicting Angela Davis. Image: Swann Auction Galleries 
This poster depicting Angela Davis with Richard McCrary's I am a Black Woman! poem had an estimate of $600 - $800; it sold with buyer's premium for $7,500.

Lot 339A: Randolph, A. Philip. Collection of material relative to the Pullman Porters
Collection of material relative to the Pullman Porters. Image: Swann Auction Galleries
Lot 339A consisted of a large collection of rare Pullman Porter material, including virtually all the equipment needed by a porter, plus personal identification, etc. It had an estimate of $15,000 - $25,000, and sold for $17,500 with buyer's premium.

Lot 589: Peacock, Eulace. Personal archive of this great African American track and field star
Eulace Peacock's personal archive. Image: Swann Auction Galleries
Eulace Peacock, often referred to as "The Fastest Man of Earth" was an American track and field athlete of the 1930s. Lot 589 consisted of over 100 gold, silver and bronze medals; correspondence, newspaper clippings, programs, and ephemera; a few photos, and other items. Although Lot 589 did not reach its low estimate of $10,000, it sold for $8,750 with buyer's premium.

For complete results of the Printed and Manuscript African Americana Sale 2342, SEE online: Sale 2342. Also, an illustrated catalogue with prices realized (by request) is available for $35.00 from Swann Galleries, Inc., 104 East 25th Street, New York, NY 10010.