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. Price Realized with Buyer's Premium: $12,500.

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. Price Realized with Buyer's Premium: $62,500.

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. Lot was Unsold.

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. 
Lot was Unsold.

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. Price Realized with Buyer's Premium: $57,500

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. Price Realized with Buyer's Premium: $23,750.

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. Price Realized with Buyer's Premium: $23,750.   

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

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