Saturday, June 26, 2010

Open Discussion with Artists: Positive Result of Documentation

In a recent BAP post, Black Art Project (BAP): Booklist, from June 09, 2010, I highlighted a series of recently published books and catalogues. This open letter or discussion to you, as visual artists, relates to one of those recently published titles, The Prints of Warrington Colescott: A Catalogue RaisonnĂ©, 1948-2008. "The catalogue documents and depicts all 354 of Colescott’s editioned prints, providing title, date, media, dimensions, and selected exhibition history and collections for each print, along with comments and anecdotes by Chapin and Colescott." This publication speaks volumes to the importance of documentation and record keeping. 

A product such as The Prints of Warrington Colescott is a wonderful example of one of the benefits, resulting from documentation of an artist's works. As an artist, do you have a visual record of all of the works produced in each media in which you work? Does that visual image include the title, date, dimensions, exhibition history, or any particular information relating to that image or its series? Do you have a record of who purchased each piece of art or to whom it may have been given or donated, and its value at the time it was given as a gift or sold? Will you have the documentation at hand to facilitate the writing of a catalogue raisonnĂ©? Can you provide a curator with the essential information needed to pull together a retrospective exhibition on a given theme or a particular medium of work? Did you keep drafts, sketches, models, plates, and etc? Are there notes, thoughts, feelings written on pieces of paper or more formally in a journal? If you are fortunate to have an artist representative, is that person keeping such records on your behalf? For purposes of documentation and good business practice, these are just a few questions to ponder as you artistically move through your career. Channel any questions that you may have relating to documentation to my attention, either through the comments section or privately via email: or

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Recollection: Lorna Simpson / Artist Talk

Recollection: Lorna Simpson is on view in the Medtronic Gallery of the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota through July 18, 2010. Visit the Walker Art Center at:

This exhibition, Recollection: Lorna Simpson, “highlights the Walker’s longstanding commitment to this important Brooklyn-based conceptual artist. It features six major works from the collection that spans a wide variety of media, including pieces from the early 1990s on paper and felt, a film commissioned as part of Simpson’s 1998-99 artist residency at the Walker, and a new acquisition being exhibited for the first time.” The artist talk was presented at the Walker Art Center on Thursday, May 13, 2010 at 7:00 pm.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Black Art Project (BAP): Booklist

BAP Booklist, the latest feature from the Black Art Project, will highlight recently published books that have an African American art focus. Identifying titles as they are recently published or in pre-publication status is crucial for those building a library that has some focus on African American art. Publishing trends are such that these titles are generally released in small runs, numbering from a few hundred to no more than 2,000 copies, so it is better to purchase the title sooner rather than later to be assured of securing a first edition copy. Once the title is out of print and the main source of securing a copy becomes the secondary market, then the price escalates. African American art books are usually published by smaller presses, academic presses, or museum/gallery presses, and are generally not mass distributed.  The marketing strategy for these books is not as extensive as books that fall within the social sciences or humanities, and certainly not to the degree of fiction books.

Although there has been a continuation of the trend to publish more fine art books, focusing on African American art, those numbers are still not large and may be considered dismal in relationship to publications focusing on American art. However, their numbers have increased, and the following are a few of the latest titles to consider for your book shelf:

  • Chapin, Mary Weaver. The Prints of Warrington Colescott: A Catalogue RaisonnĂ©, 1948-2008. Madison, Wisconsin: The University of Wisconsin  Press in collaboration with Milwaukee Art Museum, 2010. $85.00             

This exhaustive catalogue covers every known print work of Warrington Colescott through 2008."The catalogue documents and depicts all 354 of Colescott’s editioned prints, providing title, date, media, dimensions, and selected exhibition history and collections for each print, along with comments and anecdotes by Chapin and Colescott." The 352 page catalogue has 415 color illustrations. The Prints of Warrington a rarity in the field of African American art where very few titles (a catalogue raisonnĂ©) of this nature exist. This catalogue is the companion to the Milwaukee Art Museum's exhibition, Warrington Colescott: Cabaret, Comedy, and Satire, which is on view through September 26, 2010. For more details on the exhibit, visit  

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

SWANN Auction Galleries / Out of the Blue: Modern Art and Jazz / June 24, 2010

Swann Galleries launched a new department exclusively focused on African-American Fine Art in February 2007. To date, they are the only major auction house to conduct regular sales on African-American art, and auction benchmarks have been set for works by both important and lesser-known artists. Thus far, there have been seven auctions occurring twice a year in February and October. 

Swann Galleries' African-American Fine Art department will offer their latest sale entitled Out of the Blue: Modern Art and Jazz (Sale 2219) on June 24, 2010. This appears to be their first theme based auction, focusing on works of African-American artists inspired by blues, jazz and improvisation, and it includes both figurative and abstract art that speaks to the theme. Three examples of works featured in this auction are included in this release.

Charles Alston, Untitled (Cityscape at Night), Oil on canvas, 20" x 24",
circa 1950-55, Lot 17

Hughie Lee-Smith, Fugue, Color lithograph (16/175), 1996, Lot 65

Out of the Blue includes property from a number of estates or collections, including the estates of Nanette Bearden, Claude Clark, Hughie Lee-Smith, Walter Augustus Simon, Dox Thrash, Moneta Sleet, Jr., Hartwell Yeargans; and the collections of Samuel and Sally Nowak, Peter Passuntino, Elaine Plenda, George and Joyce Wein, and E.T., Auldlyn Williams, and the family of Moneta Sleet, Jr. Out of the Blue, Sale 2219, consists of seventy-six (76) lots; and a catalogue accompanies the auction.

There is a wide variety of selections that should meet the collecting goals of the novice to the experienced collector as evidenced by looking at the auction estimates, the artists, and media choices composing the 76 lots.

A sampling of some of the artists included are as follows: Ben Jones, Sam Gilliam, Hughie Lee-Smith, Faith Ringgold, Reginald Gammon, Joe Sam, Anthony Barboza, Hartwell Yeargans, Romare Bearden, William T. Williams, Ernie Barnes, Norman Lewis, Vincent D. Smith, Benny Andrews, Bob Thompson, Charles White, Charles Alston, Moneta Sleet, Jr., Dox Thrash, Hale Woodruff, Frank Stewart, Claude Clark, Joseph Delaney, and etc. An equal depth of media include representations in oils, ink wash, woodcuts, lithographs, etchings, pen and ink, pastels, photography, gouache, aquatint, mixed media, watercolors, and etc.

For more information, see:            

Hartwell Yeargans, Bass and Guitar Musicians,
Oil on canvas, 24" x 18", 1964, Lot 32