In African-American Fine Art Sale, Swann Sets New Auction Records for Elizabeth Catlett and Other Artists

  • NEW YORK, New York
  • /
  • October 10, 2019

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Kenneth Victor Young, Untitled (Abstract Composition), acrylic on canvas, 1972. Sold for $233,000, a record for the artist.
Elizabeth Catlett, Seated Woman, carved mahogany, 1962. Sold for $389,000, a record for the artist.

In the October 8 sale of African American Fine Art at Swann Auction Galleries, New York, artist records fell for Elizabeth Catlett ($389,000); Kenneth Victor Young ($233,000); Sedrick Huckaby III ($35,000); Haywood “Bill” Rivers ($25,000); Larry Walker ($11,875); and John Farrar ($3,750).

Nigel Freeman, Director of African-American Fine Art at Swann Galleries, said: “I am very pleased with the results of our auction yesterday. High prices and new auction records for Elizabeth Catlett, Allan Rohan Crite, Sargent Johnson and William H. Johnson—all important figures from the first generation of modern African-American artists—shows the growing breadth of the market. Elizabeth Catlett was especially deserving of a new record, and Seated Woman was the perfect work to do it, embodying all the wonderful qualities found in her wood sculpture. Another trend was the rising popularity and value of the paintings of Hughie Lee-Smith and Walter Williams—two significant mid-century painters Swann has specialized in. We were also excited to set a new record for Kenneth Victor Young, more than doubling his previous auction record with his largest painting to come to auction, setting the bar for his emerging secondary market.”

The sale total was $3,679,672 (Hammer: $2,967,450) for 189 lots; 164 sold (87% sell-through rate by lot).

Top lots                                                                                                                    Prices with buyer’s premium

63†        Elizabeth Catlett, Seated Woman, carved mahogany, 1962.                                                               $389,000 I
7*          Henry Ossawa Tanner, At the Gates (Flight into Egypt), oil on panel, circa 1926-27.               $341,000 I
95†        Kenneth Victor Young, Untitled (Abstract Composition), acrylic on canvas, 1972.                    $233,000
85          Romare Bearden, Girl in a Garden, collage of various papers & printed fabrics with ink, 1972.        $197,000
10†        Allan Rohan Crite, Play at Dark (Westminster Street, Madison Park), oil on canvas, 1935.       $185,000
175        Sam Gilliam, Richer Scene, acrylic & polypropylene on canvas, 1998.                                                $161,000
9†          Sargent Johnson, Head of a Negro Boy, painted terra cotta, mounted on wood base, circa 1934.      $125,000
22†        William H. Johnson, Jitterbugs II, color screenprint, circa 1941-42.                                                    $125,000
36          Norman Lewis, Untitled, oil & ink, 1960.                                                                                              $106,250
58          Hale Woodruff, Landscape No. 2, oil on canvas, circa 1966.                                                               $87,500
32*        Walter Williams, Sunflower Girl, oil on canvas, circa 1951-52.                                                            $81,250
33          Hughie Lee-Smith, Landscape with Figure, oil on board, 1952.                                             $75,000
178        McArthur Binion, Macon: Blue, marking crayon on birch plywood, 2003.                                           $68,750
131        Hughie Lee-Smith, Prelude, oil on canvas, 1986.                                                                                  $55,000
88          Noah Purifoy, Untitled (Zulu series), mixed media assemblage, circa 1970-71.                                      $47,500
152        Robert Colescott, The Artist and the Model, acrylic & pencil, 1994.                                                   $47,500
151        Hughie Lee-Smith, Les Poseurs, watercolor, 1994.                                                                              $43,750
103        Barkley L. Hendricks, Magnolia #2, watercolor, 1975.                                                           $37,500
172        Sam Gilliam, Snow Lane #1, acrylic, monoprint, color relief & collage, 1996.                                  $37,500
177        Ed Clark, Untitled, acrylic on canvas, circa 2000.                                                                                 $36,400

Key:        † = Auction Record for the Artist; * = Second Highest Price at Auction; I = Institution

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