Joyful Ernie Barnes painting headlines Swann sale, April 6
NEW YORK — Swann Auction Galleries‘ spring offering of African American Art will take place on Thursday, April 6, featuring a broad range of scarce and significant art from the Harlem Renaissance to the Post-War and Contemporary periods. Absentee and Internet live bidding will be available through LiveAuctioneers.
Ernie Barnes headlines the sale with a painting titled Daddy. The circa-1970 work, which depicts a joyful scene of a father with his son perched upon his shoulders, is an important oil on canvas that captures the artist’s expressive figuration of the 1970s that often displayed moments of everyday life. It carries an estimate of $250,000-$350,000.
Additional figurative works include Hughie Lee-Smith’s beautiful The Ribbon, dating to circa 1960 — a quintessential mid-career oil painting showcasing his unique vision of a modern, existential landscape with Surrealist undertones, which has an estimate of $120,000-$180,000; as well as one of Lee-Smith’s few known nude works, titled Nude, an oil on board from 1949 estimated at $30,000-$40,000.
Compounding on recent auction successes at Swann, the sale will feature two circa-2000 tooled-leather paintings by Winfred Rembert — Doll’s Head Baseball, estimated at $120,000-$180,000, and Jeff’s Pool Room, estimated at $100,000-$150,000. Born and raised in Cuthbert, Georgia, Rembert lived and worked as an artist in New Haven, Connecticut. His unique artwork displays memories of his youth; the rich color scenes can be found in his 2021 Pulitzer Prize-winning biography, Chasing Me to My Grave: An Artist’s Memoir of the Jim Crow South.
The post-war period is led by a significant, six-foot 1971 acrylic-on-canvas painting by Kenneth Victor Young that has an estimate of $100,000-$150,000. With its atmospheric and enigmatic floating orbs, this large canvas is an excellent example of Young’s color field abstractions. Also featured is Romare Bearden’s Wine Star, a 1959 oil on canvas that serves as a fine example of Bearden’s period of abstract color field painting of the late 1950s, which was influenced by non-Western intuitive approaches to imagery. It has an estimate of $80,000-$120,000. Equally worthy of mention is a 1956 gouache-on-board work in pinks, purples and blues by Beauford Delaney, which was created during his first Paris period of abstraction. The Delaney is estimated at $35,000-$50,000.
The auction showcases two exciting groups of politically and socially conscious artists from the early 1970s with a run of works by Chicago AfriCOBRA artists, and others of the Black Arts Movement, and a collection of works by Los Angeles artists from the estate of Naomi Caryl Hirshhorn. AfriCOBRA artists include paintings and scarce screenprints by Wadsworth Jarrell, Cliff Joseph, Charles Searles and Nelson Stevens; a standout among these is Barbara Jones-Hogu’s color screenprint Rise and Take Control, estimated at $12,000-$18,000.
The contemporary selection features two scarce multiples — Untitled (Man), a 2017 woodcut by Kerry James Marshall, estimated at $30,000-$40,000, and Baby Sleep, a 2009 pigment print by Deana Lawson with an estimate of $20,000-$30,000. Further highlights include Resting, a 2016 glass, silver and digital print by Hank Willis Thomas, estimated at $20,000-$30,000; Miriam Makeba, a 2019 quilt with applique by Michael A. Cummings, estimated at $15,000-$25,000; and Water Ice Stand, a circa-1998 acrylic on canvas by Columbus P. Knox that has an estimate of $10,000-$15,000.
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