Records & Results: African-American Fine Art

The crowd was standing-room only at our April 6 auction of African-American Fine Art. The sale totaled more than $2.5M, with five of the top lots breaking previous auction records, all of which were set by Swann since the department’s inception ten years ago. Onlookers cheered as six lots exceeded $100,000, with David Hammons’s Untitled (Double Body Print), 1976, reaching $389,000.

 

Lot 102: David Hammons, Untitled (Double Body Print Collage), pigment and ink with printed paper collage, 1976. Estimate $200,000 to $300,000.

Lot 102: David Hammons, Untitled (Double Body Print Collage), pigment and ink with printed paper collage, 1976.
Sold April 6, 2017 for $389,000.

 

Hammons was an important member of the L.A. Assemblage artists, who used found material to create sculptural collages in the wake of the Watts Riots in 1965. He was represented in the sale by two unique multimedia works: in addition to the double body print, his Untitled (Body Print) was purchased for $161,000. A haunting work by Timothy Washington, another member of the group, titled Raw Truth, 1970, incorporates such diverse media as a deconstructed baseball mitt and a zipper; it was purchased by a collector for $22,500, a record for the artist.

 

Lot 99: Timothy Washington, aluminum engraving with assemblage and hand coloring, 1970. Sold April 6, 2017 for $22,500.

Lot 99: Timothy Washington, Raw Truth, aluminum engraving with assemblage and hand coloring, 1970. Sold April 6, 2017 for $22,500.

 

Lot 112: Alvin D. Loving, Jr., Untitled, acrylic diptych on canvas, 1968. Sold April 6, 2017 for $161,000.

Lot 112: Alvin D. Loving, Jr., Untitled, acrylic diptych on canvas, 1968. Sold April 6, 2017 for $161,000, a record for the artist.

 

All five works by graphic abstractionist Alvin D. Loving, Jr. found homes, with nearly all selling above their estimates. A monumental untitled diptych of two hexagonal canvases broke the artist’s previous auction record, selling to a phone bidder for $161,000. The previous record of $156,000 was set by Swann Galleries in October, 2008.

 

Lot 169: Hughie Lee-Smith, Silhouette, oil on canvas, 1995. Sold April 6, 2017 for $106,250.

Lot 169: Hughie Lee-Smith, Silhouette, oil on canvas, 1995. Sold April 6, 2017 for $106,250.

 

A run of works by Hughie Lee-Smith spanned the artist’s career, beginning with his 1954 Untitled (Cityscape) ($57,500). A midcareer canvas titled Couterpoise, 1988, exceeded its $25,000 high estimate to sell for $45,000, while a late surrealist painting, Silhouette, 1995, sold after breakneck bidding for $106,250.

 

Lot 139: Frank Bowling, Morning Light, acrylic on canvas, 1974. Sold April 6, 2017 for $161,000.

Lot 139: Frank Bowling, Morning Light, acrylic on canvas, 1974. Sold April 6, 2017 for $161,000.

 

Morning Light, 1974, a luminous yellow “poured painting” by Frank Bowling, reached $161,000, a record for the artist, above a high estimate of $90,000. A similar work by Sam Gilliam, Mess of Greens, 1968, features a beveled-edge canvas and was purchased for $37,500.

 

Lot 58: Walter Williams, Untitled (Boy on a Porch), oil and sand on board, circa 1965. Sold April 6, 2017 for $93,750, a record for the artist.

Lot 58: Walter Williams, Untitled (Boy on a Porch), oil and sand on board, circa 1965.
Sold April 6, 2017 for $93,750, a record for the artist.

 

A previously unrecorded canvas by Walter Williams was also the largest work by the artist ever to come to auction. Untitled (Boy on Porch), circa 1965, is from Williams’s Southern Landscape series and nearly doubled its high estimate to sell for $93,750, a record for the artist.

 

Lot 13: Sargent Johnson, Untitled (Negro Mother), painted copper, 1935-36. Sold April 6, 2017 for $100,000, a record for the artist.

Lot 13: Sargent Johnson, Untitled (Negro Mother), painted copper, 1935-36. Sold April 6, 2017 for $100,000, a record for the artist.

 

The sale offered media beyond painting as well. A transfixing painted copper mask by Sargent Johnson, Untitled (Negro Mother), 1935-36, landed the artist a new record at $100,000, while Leslie Garland Bolling’s carved poplar Beautiful Womanhood reached $24,700, also a record for the artist. Several additional artists achieved new records, including William Majors, Eugene Martin and Priscilla “P’lla” Mills, whose work made its auction debut.

 

Browse the catalogue for full results. Now accepting quality consignments for Fall 2017.