New York—Swann Galleries will open the new decade in style, with a sale of African-American Art from the Johnson Publishing Company on Thursday, January 30. The collection—which hung in the publishing house’s historic offices on 820 S. Michigan Avenue in Chicago—will feature paintings, sculpture and works on paper from diverse periods over the last century, with 75 artists represented. Hung together in a single exhibition for the first time, the Johnson Publishing Company’s art collection makes a powerful statement, demonstrating the company’s longstanding recognition and support of visual artists.
The earliest work in the sale comes from 1912: Henry Ossawa Tanner’s beautiful oil-on-canvas Moonrise by Kasbah (Morocco) depicts figures outside the stark, steep exterior walls of a Moroccan Kasbah. The significant midcareer painting carries the highest estimate of the collection, at $150,000 to $250,000.
A suite of seven framed photographs with etched glass, 1996-97, by Carrie Mae Weems, commissioned by the City of Chicago Public Art Program marks a high-point of the offering. One of an edition of only three, the suite comes block estimated at $100,000 to $150,000. Further contemporary works include Richard Mayhew’s 2006 oil-on-canvas Departure, a large landscape with saturated colors ($50,000-75,000).
The cover lot of the sale is The Last Farewell, a significant 1970 oil on canvas painting by Dindga McCannon, made as she first began to define her aesthetic ($30,000-40,000). Additional abstract works from the 1970s include Kenneth Victor Young’s color field painting in greens and yellows, Upper Egypt, 1971, ($80,000-120,000) and Francis A. Sprout’s Azo, 1971, from the artist’s Moslem Tile Patterns series ($15,000-25,000).
Richmond Barthé and Elizabeth Catlett lead a remarkable run of sculpture with two cast bronze works: Barthé’s 1944 The Negro Looks Ahead and Catlett’s 1973 Sister are expected to bring $50,000 to $75,000 each. Also of note are Homage to Marion Perkins, a circa 1961-63 carved granite work by Margaret Burroughs as a tribute to her fellow Chicago artist and friend ($8,000-12,000) and Rufus, a circa 1961 cast “Montizini” plastic by Valerie J. Maynard ($3,000-5,000).
The collection features a strong selection of landscapes, as well as images of day-to-day life. Walter H. Williams’s oil on canvas White Butterfly, 1969, from his Southern Landscape series, depicts a pensive young girl picking wildflowers in a field ($30,000-40,000), while William Edouard Scott’s 1929 impressionist-style oil on canvas features a young boy picking a pumpkin ($15,000-25,000). Also of note is The Builders (The Family), a 1974 color screenprint by Jacob Lawrence, available at $5,000 to $7,000, and Barbara Johnson Zuber’s circa 1970 oil on canvas Jump Rope, which depicts a group of girls with red bows in their braids playing Double Dutch, expected to bring $1,000 to $1,500.
An offering of oil on canvas works by Loïs Mailou Jones includes Bazar Du Quai, Port Au Prince, Haiti, 1961 ($20,000-30,000), Vielle Rue, Montmartre (Rue Pinteau), 1965 ($15,000-25,000), and Boats at Théoule, 1965 ($10,000-15,000).
Exhibition opening in New York City January 25. The complete catalogue and bidding information is available at swanngalleries.com and on the Swann Galleries App.
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About Swann Auction Galleries
Swann Auction Galleries is a third-generation family business as well as the world’s largest auction house for works on paper. In the last 75 years, Swann has repeatedly revolutionized the trade with such innovations as the first U.S. auction house dedicated to photographs and the world’s only department of African-American Fine Art. More than 30 auctions and previews are held annually in Swann Galleries’ two-floor exhibition space in Midtown Manhattan, and online worldwide. Visit swanngalleries.com for more information.