Ernie Barnes touches down at Bonhams Post-War & Contemporary Art Sale in London

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Ernie Barnes touches down at Bonhams Post-War & Contemporary Art Sale in London
Ernie Barnes (1938-2009) The Gospel Truth, 1985. Estimate: £600,000 - 1,000,000. Photo: Bonhams.

LONDON.- The Gospel Truth, a masterwork by Ernie Barnes (1938-2009) leads Bonhams’ Post-War & Contemporary Art sale on Thursday 13 October in New Bond Street, London. The work has an estimate of £600,000-1,000,000.

Ralph Taylor, Bonhams Global Head of Post-War and Contemporary Art, commented: “The gospel hall paintings of Ernie Barnes have become some of the most renowned and sought-after works by the artist, and The Gospel Truth is arguably the finest example to come onto the market. Barnes' life and career has received renewed recognition since his retrospective at the California African American Museum in 2019. We are particularly excited to offer The Gospel Truth given Bonhams’ recent successes in selling masterpieces by Barnes – having achieved an impressive $1,620,375 for his Solid Rock Congregation (1993) earlier this month at Bonhams New York. This follows on from the strong result for The Maestro – which featured on the album cover of The Crusader's Ghetto Blaster (1984) – and sold at Bonhams American Art sale for $882,375 in May.”

Barnes dedicated himself full-time to art following a career in professional football. He is known for elongated figures, capturing his observations of African American life growing up in North Carolina and living in Los Angeles. Barnes' work has appeared throughout pop culture on album covers, in television and movies. He was the official artist of the 1984 Summer Olympic Games in Los Angeles.

Purchased from the artist by Tim Hauser, eight-time Grammy winner and founder of The Manhattan Transfer, the present work conveys a musical passion shared between two masters of their craft. Hauser was introduced to Barnes’ work by the bassist Kenny Gradney of Little Feat, who also came up with the work’s title, The Gospel Truth. The painting was acquired fresh from Barnes' easel and would be a brightening focal point of Hauser’s collection. One of the most remarkable gospel canvases, it comes to the market for the first time since its making, full of unique details and qualities that make it one of the most inspired paintings by the artist.

Commenting on his relationship to sport and its impact on his practice, Barnes commented that "being an athlete helped me to formulate an analysis of movement, and movement is what I wanted to capture on canvas more than anything else.”

Other highlights of the sale include:

• Bridget Riley (b.1931), Pass, 1981. This fresh-to-the-market masterwork has been in the same family collection since the 1980s. Estimate: £600,000-800,000.

• Glenn Brown (b.1966), The Music of the Mountains, 2016, is an exemplary painting that illustrates the extent and richness of his practice. Brown will further solidify his standing as one of the leading contemporary British artists with a museum dedicated to his practice and works from his personal collection, including Dutch and Italian masters, opening in Marylebone during next month’s Frieze week. Estimate: £300,000-500,000.

• Damien Hirst (b.1965), Resurrection, 2016. Estimate: £450,000-650,000.

• Banksy (b.1975), Exclamation Rat, 2006. Estimate: £400,000-600,000.

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