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Swann Galleries in New York announces February 14 Auction of African-American Fine Art
Barkley L. Hendricks, The Hawk, Blah, Blah, Blah, oil and DayGlo on canvas, 1970. Estimate: $75,000 to $100,000.

NEW YORK, NY.- On Thursday, February 14, Swann Galleries will offer an outstanding selection of African-American Fine Art, which features unique works by the most important black artists working in the last two centuries through today.

The sale includes a special section devoted to the work of pioneering female artist Elizabeth Catlett, who died in April 2012. Swann was the first auction house to offer a Catlett sculpture at auction, and we are very pleased to include another excellent example in this sale: a green marble bust titled Sister, which was acquired directly from the artist in 1972 and was part of Catlett’s exhibition at the Studio Museum in Harlem the same year (estimate: $75,000 to $100,000).

There are also desirable prints by the artist, among them the iconic Sharecropper, color linoleum cut, circa 1952 ($15,000 to $25,000); and a very scarce complete set of the monumental I Am the Black Woman, group of 14 linoleum cuts, which depict African-American heroes including Harriet Tubman, Phillis Wheatley and Sojourner Truth, as well as gritty depictions of unnamed black women, 1946-47, printed 1989 ($75,000 to $100,000).

Charles White’s powerful Trumpet Player, charcoal and gouache drawing on board, 1959-1960, is another social realist highlight in the sale. In the more than three-foot tall drawing, White captures a jazz musician in a quiet moment of repose ($100,000 to $150,000). There is also a large oil on canvas painting by White in the sale—only the second painting by the artist to come to auction—that depicts a pensive young woman, Untitled (Unfinished Painting No. 6), circa 1965-66 ($50,000 to $75,000).

The auction offers an important oil on masonite painting by Hughie Lee-Smith, Poet #4, from 1954, which epitomizes Lee-Smith’s career-defining body of work from Detroit in the 1950s, and is one of the finest examples of the artist’s painting to come to auction ($100,000 to $150,000).

There are two early works by Norman Lewis, Meeting Place, oil on canvas, 1941, the first of his WPA-era oil paintings to come to auction and an excellent example of his work in social realism ($150,000 to $200,000) and Untitled (Vertical Abstraction), oil and graphite on linen canvas, circa 1952, which combines Lewis’s interest in vertical compositions with a direct, abstract expressionist approach ($25,000 to $35,000).

Other significant abstract paintings include Hale Woodruff’s Red Landscape (The Lonely One), oil on canvas, circa 1953-57 ($25,000 to $35,000); Al Loving’s Unititled (Three Cube Composition), acrylic on three joined canvases, circa 1969-70 ($15,000 to $25,000); William T. Williams’s Up Balls, a significant work from the artist’s first solo show in New York and only the second painting by the artist to come to auction, it is infused with the geometries of jazz and non-Western cultures, 1971 ($75,000 to $100,000); and Sam Gilliam’s Butterfly, Feeling, acrylic on canvas, 1972, a vivid example of Gilliam’s experimental floor paintings of the early 1970s ($25,000 to $35,000).

From the same era is Barkley L. Hendricks’s striking The Hawk, Blah, Blah, Blah, an oil on canvas portrait of his friend Edgar, a local Philadelphia radio DJ, with a fluorescent yellow Day-Glo background, 1970 ($75,000 to $100,000).

Other figurative paintings of note include Laura Wheeler Waring’s Girl in Red Dress, oil on board, circa 1935, the first portrait by this Pennsylvania artist to come to auction ($10,000 to $15,000); Shade Chadman, gouache on paper, one of few known works from Alston’s travels through the South funded by his Rosenwald Foundation scholarship in 1940 and 1941 ($25,000 to $35,000); an oil on canvas Self-Portrait by Beauford Delaney, painted in 1964, the height of the artist’s Paris period ($20,000 to $30,000); and two of Ernie Barnes’s compelling acrylic paintings of basketball players from the 1970s.

Rounding out the painting highlights are two landscapes by Edward M. Bannister from the late 19th century; a circa 1908-12 oil on wood panel by Henry Ossawa Tanner, The House (Wall) in Blue ($50,000 to $75,000); William Edouard Scott’s The Orange Seller, oil on canvas, circa 1931-32 ($15,000 to $25,000); Palmer Hayden’s New York, South Ferry, oil on canvas, circa 1940, a fine example from the artist’s New York period ($20,000 to $30,000); and Alma Thomas’s Untitled (Standing Nude), oil on paper, 1958 ($12,000 to $18,000).

Notable sculptures include Richmond Barthé’s Feral Benga, cast bronze, modeled in 1935, cast 1986, a wonderful example of the culmination of Barthé’s study of the figure in sculpture, anatomy and dance in the 1930s and his pioneering realization of an ideal male nude ($20,000 to $30,000); and Augusta Savage’s Life Every Voice and Sing, white metal cast with copper patina, painted gold, circa 1939 ($8,000 to $12,000).

There are also prints by Romare Bearden, Roy De Carava, Jacob Lawrence, Dox Thrash and Kara Walker.

The auction will begin at 2:30 p.m. on Thursday, February 14.

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