African American Art at Swann March 31

  • NEW YORK , New York
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  • March 10, 2022

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Norman Lewis, Untitled (Rhododendrons), oil on canvas, circa 1948. Estimate $350,000 to $500,000.

New York—African American Art is on offer Thursday, March 31 at Swann Galleries. The spring offering will feature many scarce and significant Modern, Post-war and Contemporary artworks, including 28 lots from a distinguished private collection.

            The sale is led by a large 1948 painting by Norman Lewis at $350,000 to $500,000. This striking organic abstraction is based on the rhododendron plants from his New York studio. As an anthophile and plantsman, Lewis revisited the subject matter a number of times in the late 1940s, using the subject matter as a means to explore his use of black and a darker color palette, as well as natural forms that characterize his earliest abstract period. Also on offer by Lewis are several oil-and-ink works-on-paper: Jazz Quartet, 1952 ($30,000-40,000); and two untitled works from 1957 and 1972 that reflect the evolution of his practice ($10,000-15,000, apiece).

            Additional Modern and Post-war highlights include The Chase, oil on board, by Bob Thompson ($30,000-40,000). This expressionist painting is a scarce and early work from Thompson's brief but important period in Provincetown in the summer of 1958. Kenneth Victor Young is on offer with Night Push, a quintessential stained 1972 abstract canvas with dark, floating orbs and vivid colors in deep hues of magenta, blue and black ($50,000-75,000), and a similar 1971 acrylic-on-paper in blue and yellow ($15,000-25,000). Also of note is Ed Clark's Spatial Image III, a large 1982 example of his "push-broom" abstract work in pigment on paper ($100,000-150,000), and works by Alma Thomas, Beauford Delaney, Thomas Sills, and Sam Gilliam, among others.

Mequitta Ahuja, Bramble, oil on canvas, 2009. Estimate $30,000 to $40,000.

            Among the figurative works is James Lesesne Well’s Interlude, oil on canvas, 1949 ($30,000-40,000); Elizabeth Catlett’s Untitled (Young Woman Looking Up), tempera on paper, mounted to board, 1954 ($75,000-100,000); and a selection of works by Hughie Lee-Smith that acutely capture the loneliness and absence of people, including Quandary, oil on canvas, 1997 ($40,000-60,000), and Aftermath, oil on canvas, 1960, formerly in the collection of the Johnson Publishing Company ($120,000-180,000).

            Contemporary art will feature a selection of works from a distinguished private collection, including paintings, photographs and prints. Highlights include Mequitta Ahuja’s Bramble, oil on canvas, 2009; Mickalene Thomas’s Liz and Chair with Zebra, c-print, 2013 ($30,000-40,000); and Awol Erizku’s Boy Holding Grapes, digital c-print, 2012 ($15,000-25,000), as well as works by Kara Walker, Carrie Mae Weems, Barbara Bullock. Glenn Ligon, Hank Willis Thomas and more. Other Contemporary highlights include two wonderful early 1980s mixed media assemblages by Howardena Pindell: War Games Disguised II, 1980-81, and Mask, 1980-82 ($40,000-60,000, apiece); Emma Amos’s Highstep, a 1983 mixed-media work-on-paper ($30,000-40,000); and Intolerancia, a 1998 collograph with Surrealist overtones by Belkis Ayón ($35,000-50,000).

            Exhibition hours are 12 p.m to 5 p.m from March 28 through March 30. Live online bidding platforms will be the Swann Galleries App, Invaluable, and Live Auctioneers. The complete catalogue and bidding information is available at and the Swann Galleries App.

Kelsie Jankowski
Swann Auction Galleries

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