Unlike the mild early months of recent years, this winter has been–for lack of a better word–winter. Even the Deep South couldn’t escape the season, with snow falling in Texas and the now infamous shutting down of Atlanta last week. Swann’s African-American Fine Art department couldn’t help but notice that winter weather had also made an appearance in some of the artwork in our February 13 auction Shadows Uplifted: The Rise of African-American Fine Art.
Geraldine McCullough, Rowhouses in the Winter, watercolor and gouache, circa 1945-50. Estimate $1,000 to $1,500.
One such work is by Chicago artist Geraldine McCullough. Originally trained as a painter at the Art Institute of Chicago, McCullough became well known later in life as a sculptor, and went on to win the George D. Widener Gold Medal for Sculpture in 1965 for her steel and copper structure Phoenix. Rowhouses in the Winter, created during or right after her time at the Art Institute, is a pleasant scene of the back of rowhouses after a snowfall. The pale grayish hue of the sky and snow atop the trees and windows recalls very similar scenes in New York City this winter, particularly on the brownstone and townhouse lined streets of Brooklyn and Upper Manhattan.
Aaron Douglas, Snow Storm, charcoal, circa 1950-55. Estimate $8,000 to $12,000.
Snow Storm is a charming drawing by one of the most celebrated African-American artists of the Harlem Renaissance, Aaron Douglas. The drawing was likely made during the artist’s time spent in Nashville while teaching at Fisk University, where Douglas would go on to found the school’s art department. In the drawing, one can see a person trudging through a blizzard-like scene. Though snow in Nashville happens occasionally, this year the city got more than its typical share of snow and harsh winter weather. One can imagine that when Douglas was in Nashville it was rarity to get heavy snow, so when it happened, it was worth documenting.