NEW YORK — The Thursday, August 17 LGBTQ+ Art, Material Culture & History auction at Swann Galleries is a testament to the growing interest in this newly defined area of collecting. In keeping with previous years, the material represents a broad and exciting swath of 19th- and 20th-century political, social and sexual culture. Absentee and Internet live bidding will be available through LiveAuctioneers.
Fine art leads the sale with Hugh Steers’ moving 1989 painting In the Paper, which is estimated at $40,000-$60,000. Also by Steers are two 1988 oil-on-paper works: Pink Skirt and Red Flower, each individually estimated at $5,000-$8,000.
A selection of works by Keith Haring includes his famed 1989 color screenprint Silence = Death, which carries an estimate of $30,000-$40,000; and his Figure with Cape, a felt-tip pen and ink from the same year, estimated at $20,000-$30,000; as well as a run of posters related to the gay rights movement and the fight against AIDS.
Photographs, an enduring favorite in this annual auction, are well represented by artists such as David Wojnarowicz, Diane Arbus, Robert Mapplethorpe and Peter Hujar. Works of note include a collection of five 1967 portraits of the Beat Generation poet Kirby Congdon, taken by Hujar and estimated at $7,000-$10,000.
Standouts among imagery celebrating and documenting the lesbian and sapphic community include a run of images by JEB (aka Joan E. Biren), anchored by her 1978 silver print of twin Black feminists Barbara and Beverly Smith of Roxbury Massachusetts, estimated at $2,000-$3,000.
The ephemera category includes campaign material from Harvey Milk, among them a 1976 flyer from his only campaign for state office, estimated at $400-$600; and a wide range of material dating from the early 1900s to the modern era celebrating drag culture and promoting drag clubs, queens and performances.
Scarce material from the early years of the gay liberation movement in the United States and the AIDs activism era of the 1980s features in the August 17 sale lineup as well. A standout is lot 85, consisting of a pinback button and a set of four Vote Gay fliers, each in different languages, created by the Gay Activists Alliance circa 1970 and estimated at $1,200-$1,800.
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