Blues for Smoke at the Whitney

Beauford Delaney’s Portrait of a Young Musician,
part of the Blues for Smoke exhibition.

A new exhibition at the Whitney Museum of American Art called Blues for Smoke presents a selection of work by American artists, inspired by the Blues. In response to the exhibition’s sprawling theme, Holland Cotter of The New York Times writes: “Blues isn’t a thing; it’s a set of feelings, a state of mind, maybe a state of grace. In origin it’s African-American, developing with gospel and jazz, and folding into R&B, funk and hip-hop. But it has long since become a transethnic phenomenon bigger than music, an enveloping aesthetic that includes art.”

William T. Williams’s Up Balls, acrylic on canvas, 1971.
Estimate $75,000 to $100,000. At auction February 14.

The exhibition prominently features African-American artists, though not exclusively, and includes artists that followers of Swann’s African-American Fine Art department will know well: Beauford Delaney, William T. Williams, Barkley Hendricks, Romare Bearden and Kara Walker, to name a few, and well-known contemporary figures like Jean-Michel Basquiat, William Eggleston and Mark Morrisroe. It is open until April 28, 2013. A full list of the artists in the exhibition is available on the blog for MOCA in LA, where the show was conceived and launched in 2012.

Romare Bearden, Homage to Louie and Duke, offset color lithograph, circa 1975.
Estimate $3,000 to $5,000. At auction February 14.

The preview for our African-American Fine Art auction opens tomorrow, February 9, and is open next week Monday through Wednesday as well as Thursday morning.