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African American Art of the 20th Century
Gloucester Caliman Coxe ( American 1907-1999), Ebony Plays, 1972. Oil on canvas, 72 x 52 in. Signed lower right. Provenance: Private collection, Michigan. Please click here to view the catalogue of Recent Acquisitions.



NEW YORK, NY.- In today’s video we focus on American Black artists that we’ve been dealing in for the past two decades. Their work has always fascinated us as their undertone evokes a voice unheard in an uninhibited style free from class.

African American art in the 20th century encompasses diverse subjects in a variety of genres, from representational to modern abstraction constantly reflecting the American experience through their eyes.

This monumental 1972 work by Gloucester Caliman Coxe titled “Ebony Plays” not only evokes the “Hard-Edge” movement of the 1960’s & 1970’s but takes it further into a cubist form using color and geometry as his vision. Coxe was the dean of Black painters in Louisville, Kentucky in the 1950’s & 1960’s mentoring such future luminaries as Bob Thompson and Sam Gilliam. This example is a true statement and portrayal of the athletic adeptness of African American’s.

Our selection includes a 1966 Ernie Barnes evoking a future scene Kapernick displayed in 2016 against police brutality and racial inequality, an early 1964 oil by Benny Andrews along with a portrait of the infamous Black boxer Jack Johnson, a 1949 Charles Henry Alston deaccessioned from the Brooklyn Museum, and a 1948 figural cubist oil by Walter Sanford.



As a Black woman Alma Thomas encountered many barriers, however, she did not turn to racist or feminist issues believing that the creative spirit was independent of race or gender. Thomas became fascinated with abstraction while at Howard University and her work reflects a long study in color theory, watercolor and abstraction. After her teaching career of 38 years as an art teacher she emerged in 1960 becoming one of the most important African American female artists of the 20th century. She is included in the collections of every major museum in the United States and her works are incredibly rare.

Continuing is “Detour” a 1965 oil by Frank Wimberly, two sculptures by Elizabeth Catlett, the foremost 20th century Black sculptor, a figural William Sylvester Carter, Hale Woodruff’s figural 1960’s work on paper and a rare large Barbara Johnson Zuber titled “Processional Women”.

These works speak to the dignity and resilience of people who struggle for economic and civil rights along with recognizing individuals and their communities reflecting the American experience.



Once again, thank you for watching, please stay tuned there is more to come.

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March 1, 2021

African American Art of the 20th Century

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