The First Art Newspaper on the Net    Established in 1996 Thursday, December 9, 2021

Records for Joseph Delaney, Howardena Pindell, Winfred Rembert, Betye Saar & more at Swann
Howardena Pindell, Oval Memory Series: (Rhinoceros) Heaven, tempera, gouache, postcards, punched paper, nails, fluorescent paint, glitter and thread on board, 1980–81. Sold for $100,000, a record for the artist.

NEW YORK, NY.- Swann Galleries’ spring offering of African American Art on Thursday, April 22 was the second highest grossing sale in the thirteen-year history of the department, with its highest number of participants to date. “I am thrilled to see the continued growth in our African American art auctions with a tremendous sale. 398 registered bidders (not counting those on other platforms) competed for 8 hours to bid on 220 lots. We set 13 artist records and saw high prices all around for many artists,” noted department director, Nigel Freeman.

A strong showing of assemblage artists resonated with collectors with records being established for a number of artists working in the medium. Records included Howardena Pindell’s Oval Memory Series: (Rhinoceros) Heaven, a mixed-media piece in tempera, gouache, punched paper, nails, glitter and thread from 1980–81, at $100,000. The work was the first from the Oval Memory Series to come to auction, which Pindell created after a serious car accident that left her with acute memory loss in an effort to reconstruct her memories. Betye Saar’s Sojourn, 1995, earned a record for the artist at $87,500—the shadowbox employs the artist’s use of found objects and collage steeped in symbolic meaning. Artists working in assemblage in the twenty-first century included Vanessa German with You Bring Out the Savage in Me #1, a 2013 mixed-media sculpture that stands at about 4 feet, brought $18,750, a record for the artist; and with her market debut, Bisa Butler’s 2007 quilted and appliquéd Nandi and Natalie (Friends) earned $75,000.

Auction mainstays included Modernist painters such as Charles Alston, Beauford Dealney, Norman Lewis and Hale Woodruff. Woodruff led the sale with Primordial Landscape, a 1967 oil-on-canvas example of the artist’s post-war painting in which he describes landscape and natural phenomena within the idiom of Abstract Expressionism. The work sold for $245,000. Alston’s 1956–60 urban abstraction City at Night, reached $185,000; works by Delaney included Untitled (African Figure), a 1968 oil-on-canvas which achieved $125,000, and Untitled (Tent Interior), a 1951 color pastel from the Ness Oleson Trust, which sold for $137,000; from Lewis’s final body of work in abstract was Untitled (Abstraction in Red and Blue), a circa-1973 oil-on-paper work that realized $81,250.

Color field artists included Alma W. Thomas with two small-scale watercolors that drew significant interest from collectors: Untitled (Garden Composition), 1967, earned $81,259, and My Fall Garden, circa 1969, sold for $75,000. Sam Gilliam was available with Richer Scene, acrylic and polypropylene on canvas, 1998, at $185,000, and Toyopet I, an acrylic-on-canvas from Gilliam’s first period of experimentation in color field painting—completed in 1966 and then revisited in 1997—at $37,000.

Further records included Joseph Delaney with Artist’s Studio Party, oil on canvas, 1940, at $81,250; and Winfred Rembert with Inside Jeff’s Café, dyes on tooled and carved leather, circa 1997, at $50,000. Additional highlights of note included works by Richmond Barthé, Romare Bearden, Ed Clark and Kerry James Marshall.

Swann Galleries is currently accepting quality consignments for the fall 2021 season.

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