LOS ANGELES, CA.- Bonhams
will present the seminal work, Miss Liberty (1980), by American artist Robert Colescott (1925-2009), in its Post-War & Contemporary Art auction in Los Angeles on February 17. Colescott is celebrated for challenging the viewer to engage with their own perspectives, ideologies, and attitudes towards topics as incendiary as race, politics, money, and sex. This work, which has been held privately since shortly after it was created, presents the question of what it means to be American, and how race and beauty factor into this equation. Miss Liberty is the hopeful embodiment by the artist of racial equality, depicting an African American woman as the iconic symbol of American freedom; the Statue of Liberty.
The artists first major museum retrospective, Art & Race Matters: The Career of Robert Colescott, organized by the Contemporary Arts Center Cincinnati in 2019, toured across the U.S. and concluded at the New Museum in New York in 2022. As seen in Miss Liberty, Colescotts works explore the absence of Black men and women as protagonists in American history. The important nationwide retrospective has provided overdue attention on Colescotts oeuvre, whose colorful and charming visual style addresses topics that are both challenging and enlightening to its viewers.
Largely unseen since it was created, this work has not been publicly exhibited in over 35 years and only twice since it was painted. It was acquired in 1984 and has been in the same private collection since then.
Its a privilege to present this unknown masterpiece by Colescott, commented Amelia Manderscheid, Vice President and Senior Director for Post-War & Contemporary Art at Bonhams in San Francisco. Its an exemplary work by the artist in both style and subject matter, as well as for its beauty and complexity.