Notes from the Catalogue: Four of our Favorite Current Artists
Collecting the work of current artists provides a link to the contemporary creative community, even if the piece was created decades ago. Here are four of our favorite working artists, selected from our October 6 sale of African American Fine Art:
125: David Hammons, Untitled, enamel, circa 1972. Estimate $15,000 to $25,000.
David Hammons‘s abstraction in enamel shows a seldom-seen side of his early work, exemplified here. Hammons created these beautiful and organic compositions in swirling colors reminiscent of satellite images or ocean currents. Within the framework of minimal abstraction, they display his early experimental use of the material. The enamel paintings date from the years of his studies at the Otis Art Institute in Los Angeles (1968 – 1972) before he began his body art prints, painted furs, and shrouded mirrors.
87: Wadsworth Jarrell, Untitled (African Rhythm, Our Heritage), acrylic and metal foil on canvas, 1973. Estimate $25,000 to $35,000.
Wadsworth Jarrell was a leading figure of the Black Arts movement and one of the founding members of the African Commune of Bad Relevant Artists (AfriCOBRA), a Chicago artist collective formed in 1969. He is best known for his 1971 iconic painting Revolutionary that was presented at the Studio Museum in Harlem in the AfriCOBRA II exhibition in the early 1970s and is now in the collection of the Brooklyn Museum. By the fall of 1973, the collective had their last group exhibition, and each artist pursued their own interests. This excellent example of the vibrant canvases of Wadsworth Jarrell is the earliest of his significant 1970s paintings to come to auction.
“To me, the most heroic art produced is abstract art, because… it made us see in a different way.”
Lot 171: James Little, The Primary Suspect, oil on canvas, 2000. Estimate $15,000 to $25,000.
Born in Memphis, James Little has been based in New York since 1976, showing his work in numerous solo and group exhibitions. He is primarily known for his monumental hard-edge abstraction paintings in soft pastels. In this later work, Little has moved away from precise lines and shapes and into a more expressive period, though the suggestion of line and geometry is still visible. A recent grant award from the Joan Mitchell Foundation and his critically acclaimed 2009 solo exhibition at June Kelly Gallery have cemented his reputation as a leading abstract artist. Little’s paintings are in the collections of the New Jersey State Museum, the Everson Museum of Art, Syracuse, the Studio Museum in Harlem, the Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. and the Paul R. Jones Collection, Atlanta.
Carrie Mae Weems
Lot 142: Carrie Mae Weems, Mirror, Mirror, gelatin silver print, 1987, printed 2008. Estimate $25,000 to $35,000.
Carrie Mae Weems began her photography career in 1983 with a series titled Family Pictures and Stories, using photos of her family to tell the larger story of the ongoing migration of African Americans from the south to the north. She says of her oeuvre, “from the very beginning, I’ve been interested in the idea of power and the consequences of power; relationships are made and articulated through power. Another thing that’s interesting about the early work is that even though I’ve been engaged in the idea of autobiography, other ideas have been more important: the role of narrative, the social levels of humor, the deconstruction of documentary, the construction of history, the use of text, storytelling, performance, and the role of memory have all been more central to my thinking than autobiography.”
Mirror, Mirror is part of a special edition printed in 2008 of Weems’ 1987-88 series, Ain’t Jokin’. This is the first time this significant work has come to auction individually. Another print of Mirror, Mirror is in the collection of the International Center of Photography, New York.