African American art at Swann - Oct 6: Norman Lewis, Winfred Rembert, Elizabeth Catlett & more

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African American art at Swann - Oct 6: Norman Lewis, Winfred Rembert, Elizabeth Catlett & more
Winfred Rembert, Jeff’s Café & Pool Room and Zeb’s Shoe Shine, dye on carved and tooled leather, 1998. Estimate $25,000 to $35,000.

NEW YORK, NY.- Swann Galleries’ Thursday, October 8 sale of African American Art offers a selection of the best in the genre as the house marks its 15th year of dedicated auctions to work by African American and Black artists. The fall 2022 sale will present a survey of American art history with art by Black artists ranging from Henry Ossawa Tanner at the turn of the nineteenth century through the current era with Chakaia Booker.

Headlining the auction is a bright and energetic 1967 abstract work in orange by Norman Lewis ($400,000-600,000). The oil on canvas comes from the late sixties period when Lewis created a series of paintings depicting abstracted jazz musicians—an important moment coming between his black and white Civil Rights and Klan images of the early to mid-1960s and the Sea Change series in the 1970s. Additional works by Lewis include an early oil on canvas from 1947 ($120,000-180,000), and Joiners, a 1954 watercolor and ink drawing ($30,000-40,000).

Further important works in abstraction from the 1960s to 1990s include Hale Woodruff’s Landscape, oil on canvas, 1967 ($150,000-250,000); Romare Bearden’s Wine Star, oil on canvas, 1959 ($150,000-250,000); Sam Gilliam’s Horses Upside Down, acrylic and polypropylene on canvas, 1998 ($120,00-180,000); Charles Alston’s Black and White #3 (Astral #3), oil on canvas, 1961 ($100,000-150,000); and Cliff Joseph’s Rise People Rise, oil on canvas, 1970 ($35,000-50,000).

Compounding on recent market recognition at Swann, a selection of tooled-leather paintings by Winfred Rembert includes The Book That Couldn’t Be Read, 2013 ($10,000-15,000), Winfred Rembert and Class of 1959, 1999 ($25,000-35,000), and Jeff’s Café & Room and Zeb’s Shoe Shine, 1998 ($25,000-35,000). Rembert’s 2021 biography, told by Erin I. Kelly, Chasing Me to My Grave: An Artist’s Memoir of the Jim Crow South, recently won the 2022 Pulitzer Prize for Biography or Autobiography. Fabric-based artists on offer include Bisa Butler with Sea Island Woman, an intricate 2007 quilted work referencing the Gullah people of South Carolina ($40,000-60,000); Xenobia Bailey with Think, a 2008 hand-crocheted study for her MTA Hudson Yards work ($12,000-18,000); and Michael Cummings with Freedom, a 2013 quilted and appliqué depicting a civil rights worker singing for freedom with lyrics and quotations surrounding them ($12,000-18,000).

Modernist highlights include Westchester Graduation Ball, a 1951 brush-and-ink drawing by Jacob Lawrence ($50,000-75,000); Domestic Worker, a scarce print by Elizabeth Catlett, created at the Taller de Gráfica Popular upon her move to Mexico in 1946 and the first she printed there ($20,000-30,000); and Folk Singer, a 1957 print by Charles White, which reinterprets his iconic ink drawing from the same year, Folk Singer (Voices of Jericho: Portrait of Harry Belafonte) ($20,000-30,000). Sculptures from the era feature a marble carving by Marion Perkins ($30,000-40,000), and a significant welded steel sculpture by Harold Cousins ($30,000-40,000).

Also represented in the sale is a selection of photography with images made by James Van Der Zee, Anthony Barboza, LaToya Ruby Frazier and Carrie Mae Weems; figurative works by Joseph Delaney and Hughie Lee-Smith; assemblage artists Noah Purifoy and Betye Saar; and contemporary works by Chakaia Booker, Hank Willis Thomas, Glenn Ligon and Kara Walker among others.

Exhibition hours are 12 p.m to 5 p.m Saturday, October 1 and Monday, October 3 through Wednesday, October 5. Live online bidding platforms will be the Swann Galleries App, Invaluable, and Live Auctioneers.

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