Records & Results: October 2022 African American Art Auction

Swann Galleries’ October 6, 2022 sale of African American Art delivered $3.7M with auction debuts and records for artists in the top 15 lots of the auction.

Of the auction, Nigel Freeman, director of African American art for the house, noted, “I am very pleased to see our fall auction of African American Art have many strong results across such a wide range of modern and contemporary art: from the modernist paintings of Norman Lewis to the painted leather art of Winfred Rembert.”

Norman Lewis & Abstract Art

Norman Lewis led the sale with a 1967 abstract oil-on-canvas in orange at $437,000, as well as an early abstraction from 1947 at $317,000. Additional highlights included Hale Woodruff’s 1967 painting Landscape at $209,000; Charles Alston’s 1961 Black and White #3 (Astral #3) at $173,000; and Cliff Joseph’s 1970 Rise People Rise, which delivered a record for Joseph at $100,000.

Cliff Joseph, Rise People Rise, oil on canvas, 1970. Sold for $100,000 a record for the artist.

Winfred Rembert

The selection of three Winfred Rembert lots on offer brought significant fanfare from bidders, with each of the unique tooled leather paintings selling far above their high estimate. The offering included Winfred Rembert and Class of 1959, 1999, which realized $233,000; Jeff’s Cafe & Pool Room and Zeb’s Shoe Shine, 1998, at $221,000; and The Book That Couldn’t Be Read, 2013, at $52,500. Rembert’s 2021 biography, told by Erin I. Kelly, Chasing Me to My Grave: An Artist’s Memoir of the Jim Crow South, recently won the 2022 Pulitzer Prize for Biography or Autobiography.

Works on Paper

Left: Charles White, Folk Singer, linoleum cut, 1957. Sold for $137,000, a record for the print.

Classic modernist works on paper by Charles White and Jacob Lawrence proved their staying power in the market with White’s 1957 linoleum cut Folk Singer earning $137,000, a record for the print, and Lawrence’s 1951 brush and ink drawing Westchester Graduation Ball bringing $106,250.

Jacob Lawrence, Westchester Graduation Ball, brush and ink, 1951. Sold for $106,250.

Artist Records & Auction Debuts

Artist records were had by Harold Cousins with a 1952 welded steel sculpture Viking, at $52,500, and Marion Perkins with a 1950s narrow, carved marble head of a king, at $47,500. Auction debuts included works by Xenobia Bailey and Andy Robert.

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