Auction records abound in Swann African-American Fine Art Sale

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Auction records abound in Swann African-American Fine Art Sale
Kenneth Victor Young, Untitled (Abstract Composition), acrylic on canvas, 1972. Sold for $233,000, a record for the artist.

NEW YORK, NY.- On Tuesday, October 8, Swann Galleries brought a historic offering of African-American Fine Art across the block.

Elizabeth Catlett’s 1962 carved mahogany sculpture Seated Woman led the sale at a record-setting $389,000. “Catlett was especially deserving of a new record, and Seated Woman was the perfect work to do it, embodying all the wonderful qualities found in her wood sculpture,” said Nigel Freeman, Director of African-American Fine Art at Swann. The piece was acquired by the Saint Louis Art Museum who announced the acquisition shortly after the sale. Further sculpture of note included Sargent Johnson’s Head of a Negro Boy, painted terra cotta, circa 1934, which reached $125,000, a record for the artist.

Works by Washington Color School artists reached top prices, including a record for Kenneth Victor Young at $233,000, with his largest piece to come to auction to date. Sam Gilliam’s 1988 acrylic and polypropylene Richer Scene earned $161,000, while the artist’s 1996 mixed-media Snow Lane #1 brought $37,500. Additional abstract works included Romare Bearden’s 1972 mixed-media collage Girl in a Garden ($197,000); a 1960 work on paper by Norman Lewis ($106,000); and Landscape No. 2, oil on canvas, circa 1966 ($87,500).

“Another trend was the rising popularity and value of the paintings of Hughie Lee-Smith and Walter Williams—two significant mid-century painters Swann has specialized in,” continued Freeman. Works by Lee-Smith featured a variety of mediums including a 1952 oil-on-board Landscape with Figure ($75,000); a 1986 oil-on-canvas Prelude ($55,000), and a 1994 watercolor Les Poseurs ($43,750). Williams’s Sunflower Girl, oil on canvas, circa 1951-52, brought the second-highest price for the artist at auction with $81,250.

Standout Contemporary works included records for Sedrick Huckaby III with Seven Figures—a 1998 oil on canvas triptych with seven self-portraits—which reached $35,000, and Larry Walker with If People Don’t Feel—a 2002-04 mix-media diptych—which brought $11,875. Also of note was McArthur Binion with Macon: Blue, marking-crayon on birch plywood, 2003, at $68,750.

Henry Ossawa Tanner’s At the Gates (Flight into Egypt), oil on panel, circa 1926-27, brought the second highest price for the artist at auction, selling to an institution for $341,000. Additional artist records included Allan Rohan Crite with Play at Dark (Westminster Street, Madison Park), oil on canvas, 1935, at $185,000 and William H. Johnson with Jitterbugs II, color screenprint, circa 1941-42, at $125,000.

The department is currently accepting quality consignments for the spring 2020 season.

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Auction records abound in Swann African-American Fine Art Sale

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