Saturday, March 14, 2015

Swann Galleries: African-American Fine Art Sale 2378

Swann Auction Galleries will feature Ascension: A Century of African-American Art on April 2, 2015. This auction, Sale 2378, is the latest in a series of Swann's African-American Fine Art auctions, and it consists of 178 lots. The theme of Ascensionthe act of rising to an important position or a higher level, continues the recognition and elevation of African-American art to its rightful place in American art history. 

As we celebrate Women's History Month, this post highlights works by select women artists featured in Sale 2378 as representative samples of a broader spectrum of African-American women artists. It is a tribute to all African American women artists, acknowledging and recognizing the contributions that they have made to the field of American art. 

As time passes, I hope to see more female artists included in auctions such as this, as well as main stream art auctions. As one of the crucial vehicles in bringing awareness to the collector, auctions play a crucial role; and through this awareness, the collector can make a significant impact in changing the structure of the art world. For the future, lets envision a newly informed collector, wielding power in collection building, that moves in the direction of more female and racial inclusion. This newly informed collector will deconstruct the existing western structure, emphasizing American white males. The end result leads to a more representative and inclusive sample of  American art in our galleries and museums.     

In addition to the artists highlighted in this post, Ascension: A Century of African-American Artfeatures works by Barkley L. Hendricks, Charles White, Romare Bearden, Edward Bannister, Thomas Watson Hunster, Henry Ossawa Tanner, James A. Porter, Delilah William Pierce, Richmond Barthé, Betye Saar, Allan Freelon, Hale Woodruff, Dox Thrash, Sargent Johnson, Jack Whitten, Faith Ringgold, Eugene J. Martin, Sam Gilliam, Edward Clark, Hank Willis Thomas, and others. 

Beulah Woodward, Maudelle. Painted terra cotta, mounted on a wood base, circa 1937.
Approximately 12" high. Image: Swann Galleries
Lot 21, Beulah Woodward, Maudelle

This beautiful bust is a very scarce example of this early Californian sculptor's work. In this sensitive portrayal, Woodard displays a powerful realism - particularly in the careful modelling of her subject's features. Maudelle Bass (1908 - 1989) was a professional dancer and artist's model. Lot 21 has an estimate of $10,000 - $15,000.

Loïs Mailou Jones, Lobsterville Beach. Oil on linen canvas, 1945. 26" x 32". 
Signed and dated in oil, lower right recto.
Signed and inscribed "Howard University, Washington, DC"
in ink, and titled in chalk on the upper stretcher bar, verso.
Image: Swann Galleries
Lot 39,  Loïs Mailou Jones, Lobsterville Beach   

This painting, Lobsterville Beach, is an impressive Impressionist canvas and one of the largest landscapes by Jones that Swann Galleries has located of a Martha's Vineyard subject. This lot has an estimate of $30,000 - $40,000.

Laura Wheeler Waring, Untitled (Still Life with Tulips and Figurine).
Oil on canvas board, circa 1940-45. 23 3/4 " x 19 3/4".
Signed in oil, lower left. Image: Swann Galleries
Lot 40,  Laura Wheeler Waring, Untitled (Still Life with Tulips and Figurine)

During her distinguished career Waring created a number of landscapes and still lifes. This painting, Still Life with Tulips and Figurine, is in the impressionistic style characteristic of a large portion of her works. From a private collection in Massachusetts, this lot has an estimate of $8,000 - $12,000.

Mavis Pusey, Untitled. Oil on burlap canvas, circa 1968. 42" x 52½".
Signed in oil, lower left recto. Signed in pencil, lower right verso. Image: Swann Galleries
Lot 89,  Mavis Pusey, Untitled

This striking modernist abstraction, Untitled,  is typical of Mavis Pusey's distinctive late 1960s canvases. She was born in Jamaica and immigrated to New York at the age of 18 to study at the Art Students League. Lot 89 has an estimate of $15,000 - $25,000.

Elizabeth Catlett, Glory. Cast bronze with a copper-colored patina, on a wooden base,
1981. 14" x 9½" x 10". From the first part of the total edition of 9,
which was later completed in 2006.
Initialed "EC" and dated, rear lower edge. Image: Swann Galleries
Lot 146, Elizabeth Catlett, Glory  

The sitter for this bust is Glory Van Scott, performer, dancer and educator, who gained fame as the principal dancer with the Katherine Dunham, Agnes DeMille, and Talley Beatty dance companies and as a performer on Broadway in the 1960s and 1970s. Lot 146 is the fourth known cast of this bust and it has an estimate of $25,000 - $35,000.

Carrie Mae Weems, You Became Playmate to the Patriarch and Their Daughter.
Diptych of Chromongenic prints, with etched text on glass, 1995.
Both: 23½" x 19½". Both signed, dated and numbered 2/10 (left panel) and
1/10 (right panel) in pencil on the flush mounts, verso.
From the series From Here I Saw What Happened and I Cried. Image: Swann Galleries
Lot 167, Carrie Mae Weems, You Became Playmate to the Patriarch and Their Daughter

Another set (each numbered 7/10) of these images were offered in the Photograph auction, April 24-25, 2006, at Christie's New York. In that sale the pair had an estimate of $3,000 - $5,000, and reached a realized price of $15,600. 

Fast forward to Sale 2378. Lot 167, You Became Playmate to the Patriarch and Their Daughter, has an estimate of $15,000 - $25,000.

Kara Walker, The Emancipation Approximation (Scene 18).
Color screenprint on Somerset 500 gram paper, 1999-2000. 44" x 34".
Initialed, dated and numbered "XVII/XXV" in pencil, verso.
 Published by Jenkins Sikkema Editions, New York.
From The Emancipation Approximation portfolio.
Lot 169, Kara Walker, The Emancipation Approximation (Scene 18).  

Lot 169 is one screenprint (scene 18) from the set of twenty-six screenprints. Another edition of this print appeared in the Modern and Contemporary Editions auction at Phillips on June 8, 2011 with an estimate of  $6,000 - $8,000 and sold for $10,625. 

Lot 169, The Emancipation Approximation (Scene 18), has an estimate of $6,000 - $9,000.    

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                                                     

Live online bidding is also available via invaluable.comThanks to Swann Galleries for the use of images and written material in the catalogue.

Further Readings:
Elizabeth Catlett

Elizabeth Catlett / New York Times

Loïs Mailou Jones

Loïs Mailou Jones / Callaloo Interview with Charles H. Rowell

Loïs Mailou Jones / Smithsonian American Art Museum...

Mavis Pusey

Friday, February 6, 2015

Select African American Art Exhibitions: Highlights for 2015

This highlight, the first for 2015, features a few upcoming exhibitions that have recently opened or will be opening in the very near future. Presenting the exhibitions as they approach their opening dates or shortly after opening assures a freshness and currency of information for visual art enthusiasts. A number of important exhibitions that opened late last year or in January 2015, and are still being featured across the country, are accessible from the BAP Blog page entitled: Select Art Exhibitions in 2015. This page is updated on a weekly basis by either adding newly discovered exhibitions or removing those that are approaching their expiration date. Its intent is to provide comprehensive coverage of current ongoing exhibitions on view for the current quarter of the year.

Black Art Project (BAP) welcomes any information or leads that you might have relating to Black art exhibitions, particularly regional exhibitions that are not traditionally marketed on a national scale. BAP will verify the accuracy of any information submitted. Thank you for any assistance that you provide. 

Andover, Massachusetts
Ellen Gallagher, Wiglette from DeLuxe, 2004-2005, portfolio of sixty with photogravure, etching, aquatint and drypoint with lithography, screenprint, embossing, tattoo machine engraving, laser cutting and chine collé, 13"x 10½" (33 x 26.7 cm), courtesy of Two Palms, New York                         

The Addison Gallery of American Art is exhibiting Ellen Gallagher's seminal print series DeLuxe. As a complement to DeLuxe, the galleries surrounding the installation feature works from the Addison's collection that explore the techniques, ideas, and imagery found in Gallagher's work. DeLuxe takes center stage in the exhibition, Collection Intervention: Ellen Gallagher's DeLuxe, which is on view February 7 through May 17, 2015.

For DeLuxe, Gallagher transformed beauty and hair product advertisements from vintage African American magazines using  a range of print techniques, then added plasticine, paint, coconut oil, toy eyeballs, and glitter to each, further subverting and recontextualizing the images. This playful and provocative series of gridded prints offers sly and insightful commentary on modernism, mass media, fashion, identity, and race in mid-century America. 
Ellen Gallagher, Black Combs from DeLuxe, 2004-2005, portfolio of sixty with photogravure, etching, aquatint and drypoint with lithography, screenprint, embossing, tattoo machine engraving, laser cutting and chine collé, 13"x 10½" (33 x 26.7 cm), courtesy of Two Palms, New York 

Additional Event: Lecture
  • On February 22 at 2 pm, printmaker  David Lasry of Two Palms Press, and Sarah Suzuki, Associate Curator, Department of Drawings and Prints, Museum of Modern Art, New York will discuss Ellen Gallagher's DeLuxe

Brooklyn, New York 
Kehinde Wiley (American, b. 1977). The Two Sisters, 2012. Oil on linen, 96"x 72" (243.8 x 182.9 cm). 
Collection of Pamela K. and William A. Royall, Jr. 
Courtesy of Sean Kelly, New York. © Kehinde Wiley. (Photo: Jason Wyche)
The Brooklyn Museum presents Kehinde Wiley: A New Republic, the first museum survey of the artist's rich and prolific career, on view February 20 through May 24, 2015.

Kehinde Wiley: A New Republic is comprised of approximately sixty objects, highlighting the range of the artist's work. The exhibition includes his early portrait paintings, inspired by the artist's observation
of street life in Harlem and set to the visual landscape of classical European portraiture, as well as his recent explorations in sculpture and stained glass. 

Kehinde Wiley (American, b. 1977).
Houden Paul-Louis, 2011. Bronze with polished stone base, 34"x 26" x 19" (86.4 x 66 x  48.3cm). 

Brooklyn Museum, Frank L. Babbott Fund and A. Augustus Healey Fund, 2012.51. 
© Kehinde Wiley. (Photo: Sarah DeSantis, Brooklyn Museum)  

Kehinde Wiley has received critical acclaim for his investigation of race, power, and the politics of representation, and his work has been lauded for giving new meaning to the social codes of gesture and dress, past and present, while challenging stereotypes about masculinity and class today, in America and around the world.

Works on view include selections from his ongoing World Stage series. Initiated in China in 2006, The World Stage examines socioeconomic conditions and culture through the everyday lives of people in India, Sri Lanka, Israel, Jamaica, and Nigeria, among other countries. Also on view will be his bronze busts, as well as his recent series An Economy of Grace, and his new stained-glass paintings.

Kehinde Wiley (American, b. 1977).
Saint Remi, 2014. Stained glass, 96"x 43½" (243.8 x 110.5cm). 

Courtesy of Galerie Daniel Templon, Paris. © Kehinde Wiley.

A fully illustrated catalogue accompanies the exhibition.

Related Events: 
  • February 12: The one night-only conversation about the role storytelling plays in the visual arts, featuring Spike Lee, Kehinde Wiley, and Tatyana Fazlalizadeh. SOLD OUT                                       
  • February 19: Members Preview and Reception  

 Chicago, Illinois
Eldzier Cortor, Environment No. V, 1969, printed 2000. Gift of Eldzier Cortor in memory of Sophia Cortor.
Eldzier Cortor Coming Home: Recent Gifts to the Art Institute will be on view February 21 through May 31, 2015 in Gallery 124 at the Art Institute of Chicago. In 2012, Eldzier Cortor made an extraordinary gift to the Art Institute that included a painting, 30 prints, and several printing matrices. This exhibition presents selected works from the gift. 

Two influences can be seen at play throughout Cortor's career. As a student at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (1936), Eldzier Cortor came under the influence of instructor Kathleen Blackshear, who led students to explore the regional arts of Africa and other non-Western cultures at the Field Museum and Oriental Institute in Chicago. At the same time, Cortor was inspired by philosopher Alain Locke's call for African American artists to reclaim their ancestral heritage as a means of strengthening and enriching their expression. Locke is referred to as the "Father of the Harlem Renaissance."

The works in this exhibition reflect an expansive part of Eldzier Cortor's

Eldzier Cortor, Dance Composition, No. 34, 1980s.
Gift of Eldzier Cortor in memory of Sophia Cortor.

career. Working with the Federal Arts Program from 1938 to 1943, Cortor focused on African American social life on Chicago's South Side. Later, living and painting among the Gullah people on the Sea Islands off South Carolina, he became fascinated by their deep cultural connection to their African roots. His experiences with the Gullah fostered his decision to depict Woman as the archetypal image of all people. Eventually, this focus evolved to combine Woman and Dance, as shown in many of the prints in this exhibition.    

In the mid-1950s, Cortor produced several  woodblock  prints with Japanese printmaker Jun'ichiro Sekino, a leading member of the Creative Prints movement. Five of those works from this period are on display, demonstrating the highly original hybird of Western and Japanese techniques that resulted from Cortor and Sekino's close collaboration. 

Lastly, on view are some of Eldzier Cortor's experimental prints made in Manhattan at Robert Blackburn's Printmaking Workshop, where he worked between 1955 and 1998.    

Related Event: 
On February 20, 2015, The Leadership Advisory Committee of the Art Institute of Chicago is honoring renowned artist and printmaker Eldzier Cortor with the 2015 Legends and Legacy Award. This award is an honor bestowed to living African American artists who, through their lifelong accomplishments and exceptional career in the visual arts have influenced the next generation of artists.   
Dallas, Texas

Melvin Edwards, Steel Life, 1985–91 Welded steel, 12½" × 18" × 17¾" (31.8 × 45.7 × 45cm) 
    Jacqueline Bradley and Clarence Otis, © 2015 Melvin Edwards / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York, 
Photograph by Jeffrey Sturges, courtesy Alexander Gray Associates, New York; Stephen Friedman Gallery, London

Melvin Edwards: Five Decades, a retrospective for this renowned American sculptor, will be on view through May 10, 2015 at the Nasher Sculpture Center. Melvin Edwards' career spans crucial periods of upheaval and change in American culture and society, and his sculpture provides a critical bridge between modernist techniques and materials and contemporary approaches to the art object. Over the past five decades, Edwards has produced a remarkable body of work redefining
the modernist tradition of welded sculpture.

Melvin Edwards, Mamba (Lynch Fragment), 1965, Welded steel,10½" × 9" × 9¾" (26.7 × 22.9 × 24.8 cm) 
Courtesy Alexander Gray Associates, New York; Stephen Friedman Gallery, London, © 2015 Melvin Edwards / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Photograph by Jeffrey Sturges, courtesy Alexander Gray Associates, New York; Stephen Friedman Gallery, London

Melvin Edwards: Five Decades bears witness to Edwards' pro
found commitment, from the very beginning of his career, to an art that is both abstract and deeply engaged with meaning and expression. A truly international artist well before the advent of today's global art world, Edwards has brought his experiences of other cultures and languages, particularly those of Africa, into his work, to explore the varied ways that art can forge bonds of connection and kinship. He is best known for his Lynch Fragments, an ongoing series of small-scale reliefs begun in Los Angeles in the early 1960s and born out of the social and political turmoil of the civil rights movement.

Melvin Edwards with Column of Memory, Deni-Malick Gueye 
Farm near Diannaido, Senegal, about 2005. 
Photograph by Bakary Ali Mbaye, courtesy the artist

This exhibition, Melvin Edwards: Five Decades, features a broad selection of Lynch Fragments from the 1960s, 1970s to the present, exploring memory, history, and African and African American culture. Fulfilling its mission, as the first retrospective of Edwards' work in more than twenty years, it reveals that his career has extended far beyond the Lynch Fragments. Major large-scale sculptures of the 1960s, as well as his Rockers of the 1970s are included. In addition, Five Decades features many works not seen since their creation, and in some cases never before exhibited. Also on view are sculptures Edwards has made in Senegal over the past decade, as well as a selection of maquettes, and prototypes reflecting his long career in public sculpture, and rarely exhibited works on paper.

Melvin Edwards, Ame Eghan (Rocker), 1975, Welded steel, 12½" × 19½" × 19½" (31.8 × 49.5 × 49.5 cm) 
Courtesy Alexander Gray Associates, New York; Stephen Friedman Gallery, London. 
© 2015 Melvin Edwards / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.  
Photograph by Jeffrey Sturges, courtesy Alexander Gray Associates, New York; Stephen Friedman Gallery, London
 A fully illustrated catalogue accompanies the exhibition.

Elmhurst, Illinois
Nnenna Okore, Akaraka, 2013. Newspapers, jute rope, dye and acrylic

On the Brink: New Work by NNenna Okore will be on view February 7 through May 3, 2015 at Elmhurst Art Museum. This is the first solo exhibition in the Chicago area for this internationally celebrated sculptor. 

Nnenna Okore makes striking abstract wall hangings and installations of fiber and paper that explore the delicate and cyclical nature of life. Okore's work is unabashedly handcrafted and labor-intensive. Her rhythmic methods of fraying, twisting, wrapping, weaving, sewing and dyeing are drawn from her childhood experiences in Nsukka, Nigeria
Nnenna Okore, Tomorrow Never Dies, 2914. Burlap, dye, wire and acrylic
where she sometimes watched artisans fabricating items like brooms from palm fronds or participated in daily activities such as cooking, washing, harvesting and preparing food from scratch. Okore's artistic practice embodies this understanding of and commitment to the patient process of material transformation. Whether hovering in front of a wall or suspended from the ceiling, Okore's undulating and protruding sculptures create an immersive environment that is reminiscent of bodily forms and movement. 
Nnenna Okore, Onwa Nétilu Ora, 2013. Newspapers and acrylic
Related Programs:
  • February 7: Opening Program: Conversation between Artists Nnenna Okore and Michelle Grabner, discussing their process-oriented practices and the challenge of succeeding as a female, mother, teacher and artist in the art world today. 

St. Joseph, Michigan

John Bankston, Fairy Machine, 32"x 44"
The Krasl Art Center presents Dream to Dream: The Art of John Bankston in its main galleries. The exhibition will be on view through April 26, 2015. This exhibition is the first for Bankston in his home community.

Bankston's brightly colored artworks address issues of transformation and identity. His paintings are filled with fictional figures in fantastical lands. The narratives are obscure, yet in their coloring book fashion,
John Bankston, Mysterious Magic, 2014. Oil on linen, 54" x 48"
they are inviting. Bankston states, "A coloring book page is about transformation. Through the act of applying color, the page goes from being a general image to a personal expression. I want the viewer to be aware of the 'color' or  ethnicity/identity of the characters in the work. I hope the viewer will think about a blank coloring page and the choice one can make in terms of identity when coloring the image. "
Bankston is able to use fantasy as an active way to re-imagine the world, to step outside of one's known territory and break boundaries. His paintings are not a form of idle escapism, but rather a critical platform.

Artworks for this exhibition are on loan from the Walter Maciel Gallery and Rena Bransten Projects. 

A catalogue accompanies this exhibition, Dream to Dream: The Art of John Bankston. 

John Bankston, Large Hybird 2, 2014. Acrylic on paper, 42" x 35"
 Related Event:  
  • April 9: Film Screening: The Hairy Who. Learn about The Hairy Who and make connections between them and Bankston's art on view in the galleries. $5.00 suggested donation.