Inaugural Boutique Auction: African American Art on April 21
April 16, 2012 | view archive
April 21 marks the inauguration of our new Boutique Auctions, presented as part of our monthly Art & Antique Auctions. The focus of this premier auction, managed by Thom Pegg of Tyler Fine Arts in
The auction catalog, comprised of carefully selected works by some of the most recognizable artists of the 20th Century, reads like a Who’s Who of African American artists. Their influence and imagery can be found in every aspect of American art. The artwork represented in this auction encompasses a broad spectrum of style and media, including traditional paintings and sculpture through works by Harlem Renaissance artists, the Black Art Movement from Chicago, as well The American School and the Outsider Art Movement.
This auction could be interpreted to represent the struggle of many African Americans who often walked a thin line between established African American Art movements like
Works presented in this auction demonstrate a rich cultural history of dedicated artists who at times drew influence from the outside world, while at other times, managed to turn the tables and effectively influence the world of art beyond the boundaries of their own particular communities and movements.
I am pleased to share with you some of the highlights from this very special auction.
Mountain Laurels (1910), a floral still life by Charles Ethan Porter (1847-1923), is the oldest work in this auction. Porter was
Thanks to the WPA, many cultural art centers developed in major African American communities in the US cities during the 1930s and 40s. These art centers provided employment and professional art instruction for their communities. Art movements and styles associated with their specific geographic locations swiftly followed.
At the heart of the Harlem Renaissance was the Harlem Arts Workshop. Sculptor Augusta Savage (1892-1962) is known as the founder of the Harlem Arts Workshop. In 1937, she became the first director of the
“As an artist… I am intensely interested in probing, exploring the problems of color, space and form, which challenge all Contemporary painters. However, as a black American… I cannot but be sensitive and responsive in my painting to the injustice, the indignity and the hypocrisy suffered by black citizens.”-- Charles Altson (1907-1977)
Charles Alston holds a place of great honor among twentieth century American artists. During a difficult period in American history, Alston was a trail blazer for African American artists. Among his many accomplishments, Alston was the first African American Advisor of the WPA. In 1950, he became the first African American instructor at the Arts Student League in
Alston will be represented by two lithographs in the April 21, including Rockin’ n’ Rhythm (1929), depicting a sultry couple in the throes of a passionate dance, not only embodies the Jazz Age in New York, but also exemplifies Alston’s ability to convey a sculpture-like quality derived from African sculptures in his two-dimensional work.
Other artists associated with the Harlem Renaissance include Romare Bearden, and Elizabeth Catlett.
ART SCENE 1930s-40s CHICAGO
“The Black woman represents the Black Race. She is the Black Spirit; she conveys a feeling of eternity, and the continuum of life.” –Eldzier Cortor
Eldzier Cortor's (b. 1916), 1946 work Woman in an Interior (est. $30,000-$50,000) demonstrates the Surrealists’ influence on African American artists during the mid 20th Century. Cortor, who studied at the Art Institute of Chicago, was co-founder of the
“I was no longer called black artist, Negro artist, colored boy. When I won that prize, all of a sudden, there was no longer a racial designation.” –Hughie Lee-Smith
As an artist exploring styles during the post-Expressionist era, Hughie Lee-Smith’s work is associated Magic Realism, frequently representing loneliness and isolation from society. Lee-Smith managed to break through racial barriers in 1953, when he won top prize for one of his paintings from the Detroit Institute of Art. This was a turning point in his perception of himself as an artist. Years later, he said, “I was no longer called black artist, Negro artist, colored boy. When I won that prize, all of a sudden, there was no longer a racial designation.” Lee-Smith is represented by two works in this auction.
"When Gertrude Stein and Ferdinand Leger told me that I would be a big American painter some day I felt a little honored, but when I heard that Picasso had said that I was on the right track I really felt honored."
-–Charles Sebree, 1940
Another artist affiliated with the
Ralph Arnold’s (1927-2006), 1976 mixed media construction Last Romance (est. $2,000-$3,000), echoes strong influence from Joseph Cornell, who was strongly aligned with the Surrealist and Dadaist movements during the early 20th Century. Examples of
There is sometimes a nearly indecipherable line drawn between what many consider “high” art versus “low” art. The art movement commonly referred to as Outsider Art raises many philosophical questions. Standing Figure, a primitive self portrait (est. by Mose Tolliver, shows this leader of the American Outsider Art Movement at its very best. One part visionary, one part artist, Tolliver’s work as has been widely exhibited and published.
Antique Helper's April Art & Antiques Auction
Saturday, April 21, 10 AM
Friday, April 20, 2-7 PM