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                                                     

Live online bidding is also available via

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