Auction Highlights: African American Art — October 19, 2023

The October 19, 2023, sale of African American Art will feature exceptional modern and contemporary works of abstract and figurative art.

Norman Lewis, Mood Madness, oil on canvas, 1959. Estimate $600,000 to $900,000.

The top lot in the auction is Moon Madness, an important 1959 processional painting by Norman Lewis. It is one of a significant series of nocturnal compositions made by the artist in the late fifties.

Hughie Lee Smith, Untitled (Two Young Men on a Beach), oil on board, 1954. Estimate $120,000 to $180,000.

Other sale highlights are two paintings from 1954. Hughie Lee-Smith’s Untitled (Two Young Men on a Beach) is an evocative oil painting that epitomizes the artist’s career-defining body of work of surreal landscapes from Detroit. 

From left to right: Samuel Levi Jones, Construct of Colour Vision, deconstructed medical books on canvas, 2018. Estimate $20,000 to $30,000; Romare Bearden, The River Merchant’s Wife, oil on canvas, 1954. Estimate $100,000 to $150,000.

From left to right: Edward M. Bannister, At “Smith’s Palace”, Narragansett Bay, oil on canvas, circa 1881. Estimate $60,000 to $90,000; Henry Ossawa Tanner, Untitled (Flight to Egypt), oil on wood panel, circa 1923. Estimate $40,000 to $60,000.

Left: Sam Gilliam, Untitled, acrylic and metallic paint on draped polypropylene fabric, 1979. Estimate $150,000 to $250,000.

Another abstract highlight is a 1979 untitled draped canvas by Sam Gilliam, from the estate of his friend and collaborator Lou Stovall—this 90-inch-high expanse of saturated color is a stunning example of Gilliam’s innovative painting.

Alma Thomas, Transcendental, watercolor on paper, 1965. Estimate $75,000 to $100,000.

The auction also includes exceptional works on paper including Alma Thomas’s Trasendental, a large and colorful 1965 watercolor that was included in the artist’s first solo exhibition in a commercial gallery. Contemporary highlights include one of Simone Leigh’s signature cowrie shell forms with a dark gray glaze, and Samuel Levi Jones’s Construct of Colour Vision, 2018, an excellent example of his practice of assembling deconstructed books into grid-like compositions. The Levi Jones will be sold by the estate of George T. Wein to benefit the Newport Festivals Foundation, Inc.

From left to right: Carrie Mae Weems, Blue Notes (Basquiat): Who’s Who or a Pair of Aces #1, archival inkjet print with color screenprint, 2014. Estimate $30,000 to $40,000; Simone Leigh, Untitled, glazed terra cotta stoneware, circa 2011-12. Estimate $60,000 to $90,000.

Get Notifications for Auction Day