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Swann’s African American art auction sets records

Charles Alston, ‘Black and White #8,’ oil on linen canvas, 1961. Sold for $197,000. Swann Galleries image

NEW YORK – Swann Galleries’ auction of African American art on Dec. 11 totaled $2.8 million and established records for eight artists, including Charles Alston, Wadsworth Jarrell, Augusta Savage. Absentee and Internet live bidding was available through LiveAuctioneers.

Alston’s Black and White #8 (above) led the way selling for a record $197,000.

“Despite the turbulent year, I am thrilled to see the continued growth of our sales, and the rising recognition of the great artists featured: from Harlem Renaissance masters Augusta Savage and Charles Alston to prized postwar painters Wadsworth Jarrell and John Robinson. We had a tremendous level of interest in the sale overall with an increasingly diverse audience of individual collectors and institutions from around the world,” said Art Nigel Freeman, Swann Galleries’ director of African American

The 211-lot auction, which had an 82% sell-through rate by lot, well surpassed the presale estimate of $2.2 million

Two works by Romare Bearden achieved six figures. His Woman and Child, a collage of various colored and printed papers and pencil, sold for $173,000.

Romare Bearden, ‘Woman and Child,’ collage of various colored and printed papers and pencil, 1968. Sold for $173,000. Swann Galleries image

Bearden’s The Last of the Blue Devils, a collage on board reached $100,000.

Romare Bearden, ‘The Last of the Blue Devils,’ collage on board, 1979. Sold for $100,000. Swann Galleries image

Also selling for $100,000 was Emma Amos’ Water Baby painting, her second-highest auction result.

Emma Amos, ‘Water Baby,’ acrylic and fabric on canvas with Kente cloth border, 1987. Sold for $100,000. Swann Galleries image

Wadsworth Jarrell’s colorful acrylic on canvas titled Subway brought $125,000, a record price for his work.

Wadsworth Jarrell, ‘Subway,’ acrylic on canvas, 1970. Sold for $125,000. Swann Galleries image

Also achieving a personal auction record was Augusta Savage for his plaster bust titled Gamin, which brought $112,500.

Augusta Savage, ‘Gamin,’ plaster painted gold, circa 1929. Sold for $112,500. Swann Galleries image

Additional highlights included:

– Lot 192, Simone Leigh, Head, glazed and painted fire stoneware, 2004, $93,750.

– Lot 118, Sir Frank Bowling, Repose for SO, acrylic on canvas, 1976, $93,750.

– Lot 188, Kenneth Victor Young, Untitled, acrylic on cotton canvas, circa 2000, 2000, $81,250.

– Lot 28, John N. Robinson, Reclining Woman (Gladys), oil on canvas, 1952, $81,250.

– Lot 82, Alma Thomas, Untitled (Composition in Dark Blue Black and Deep Pink), acrylic on paper, 1972, $62,500.

Additional artist records were set by Edward Loper Sr., Lot 35, $13,750; Gloucester Caliman Coxe, Lot 37, $10,625; Frank Hayden, Lot 144, $10,000; James V. Herring, Lot 3, $7,500; and Lev Mills, Lot 126, $5,750.

For more information contact Nigel Freeman at or 212-254-4710 x 3.

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