NEW YORK — On Thursday, March 31, Swann Galleries will hold its next sale of African American Art. The spring offering will feature many scarce and significant Modern, Post-war and Contemporary artworks, including 28 lots from a distinguished private collection. Absentee and Internet live bidding will be available through LiveAuctioneers.
Leading the sale is a large 1948 painting by Norman Lewis, estimated at $350,000-$500,000. The striking organic abstraction is based on the rhododendron plants from his New York studio. As an anthophile and plantsman, Lewis revisited the subject matter a number of times in the late 1940s, using it as a means to explore his use of black and a darker color palette, as well as natural forms that characterize his earliest abstract period. Also on offer by Lewis are several oil-and-ink works-on-paper: Jazz Quartet from 1952, estimated at $30,000-$40,000; and two untitled works from 1957 and 1972 that reflect the evolution of his practice, carrying estimates of $10,000-$15,000 apiece.
Additional Modern and Post-war highlights include The Chase, an oil on board by Bob Thompson, estimated at $30,000-$40,000. This expressionist painting is a scarce and early work from Thompson’s brief but important period in Provincetown in the summer of 1958. Kenneth Victor Young is on offer with Night Push, a quintessential stained 1972 abstract canvas with dark, floating orbs and vivid colors in deep hues of magenta, blue and black, estimated at $50,000-$75,000, and a similar 1971 acrylic-on-paper in blue and yellow, estimated at $15,000-$25,000. Also of note is Ed Clark’s Spatial Image III, a large 1982 example of his “push-broom” abstract work in pigment on paper. Its estimate is $100,000-$150,000. Other represented artists include Alma Thomas, Beauford Delaney, Thomas Sills and Sam Gilliam.
Among the figurative works is James Lesesne Well’s Interlude, a 1949 oil on canvas estimated at $30,000-$40,000; Elizabeth Catlett’s Untitled (Young Woman Looking Up), a 1954 tempera on paper mounted to board, estimated at $75,000-$100,000; and a selection of works by Hughie Lee-Smith that acutely capture the loneliness and absence of people, including Quandary, a 1997 oil on canvas estimated at $40,000-$60,000, and Aftermath, a 1960 oil on canvas formerly in the collection of the Johnson Publishing Company. It carries an estimate of $120,000-$180,000.
Contemporary art will feature a selection of works from a distinguished private collection, including paintings, photographs and prints. Highlights include Mequitta Ahuja’s 2009 oil on canvas, Bramble, estimated at $30,000-$40,000; Mickalene Thomas’s Liz and Chair with Zebra, a 2013 c-print with the same estimate; and Awol Erizku’s 2012 digital c-print, Boy Holding Grapes, estimated at $15,000-$25,000. Other Contemporary highlights include two wonderful early 1980s mixed media assemblages by Howardena Pindell: War Games Disguised II from 1980-81, and Mask from 1980-82, each individually estimated at $40,000-$60,000; Emma Amos’s Highstep, a 1983 mixed-media work-on-paper estimated at $30,000-$40,000; and Intolerancia, a 1998 collograph with Surrealist overtones by Belkis Ayon, estimated at $35,000-$50,000.
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