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SWANN AUCTION GALLERIES has released the catalog for its fall African American Fine Art sale on Dec. 15 in New York. The selection, which it describes as including its “strongest offerings to date,” features a number of Norman Lewis paintings, several works by Hughie Lee-Smith, Lois Mailou Jones, Beauford Delaney, and Charles White, along with early paintings by Aaron Douglas and Romare Bearden. The sale of 150 lots includes paintings, works on paper and sculpture.

Swann 121515 Catalog

“Friends” by Elizabeth Catlett graces the cover of the catalog and is believed by Swann to be the first painting by the artist to come to auction. Appropriate for the season, “Fall Atmosphere,” a striking 1971 abstract by Alma Thomas is also among the lots.

‘Friends’ by Elizabeth Catlett graces the cover of the catalog and is believed by Swann to be the first painting by the artist to come to auction.

In addition, auction highlights include important African American contemporary artists, Sam Gilliam, Barkley L. Hendricks, Rashid Johsnon, Titus Kaphar, Glenn Ligon, Betye Saar and Kara Walker, among them. “Untitled (My Life in America),” a large work on paper by Ligon (above) references a quotation by James Baldwin from “The Evidence of Things Not Seen” his 1985 book on the Atlanta Child Murders.

The sale coincides with a landmark retrospective at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts where “Procession: The Art of Norman Lewis” is on view (Nov. 13, 2015-April 3, 2016), the first museum overview of painter’s career.

Lot 49, a large untitled canvas by Lewis, circa 1958, is the centerpiece of the auction and is estimated to be the top lot ($250,000-$350,000). Executed in a muted beige palette, the abstract painting features meandering processions of calligraphic figures. According to Swann, it was recently re-discovered and has never been publicly exhibited. CT

TOP IMAGE: GLENN LIGON (1960 – ), “Untitled (My Life in America),” 1994 (oil stick and pencil on thick wove paper). | Estimate $75,000-$100,000

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Lot 49: NORMAN LEWIS (1909 – 1979), “Untitled,” circa 1958 (oil on linen canvas). | Estimate $250,000-$350,000

Swann: This masterful mid-century composition is a newly discovered and important example of Norman Lewis’s painting. This previously unrecorded painting reveals yet another dimension to his late 1950s body of abstraction.

Norman Lewis Record: Two years ago, a circa 1957, untitled oil on canvas painting by Lewis sold at Swann for $581,000 (including fees) on Oct. 3, 2013, setting an auction record for the artist.

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Lot 47: NORMAN LEWIS (1909 – 1979), “Untitled (Study in Magenta),” 1958 (oil, brush and ink on cream wove paper). | Estimate $6,000-$9,000

Read More: Norman Lewis Preview of Works in this Sale

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Lot 4: JAMES A. PORTER (1905 – 1970), “FA as Harlequin,” 1930 (watercolor on buff textured wove paper). | Estimate $5,000-$7,000

Swann: This unusual and early self-portrait is a striking departure for [James A. Porter], and a remarkable early foray into modernism by a Harlem Renaissance-era artist.

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Lot 6: ELIZABETH CATLETT (1915 – 2012), “Howard University Choir,” 1932 (pen and ink on two joined sheets of cream wove paper). | Estimate $5,000-$7,000

Swann: This drawing was found in a portfolio of drawings and examples of artworks by Loïs Mailou Jones’ students from Howard University… This illustration is a very scarce work from Elizabeth Catlett’s time as a college student, and is the earliest artwork by the artist to come to auction. Catlett was a student at Howard University from 1931-35, graduating with a Bachelor of Science degree in Art, cum laude. Catlett likely drew this illustration while studying graphic design under Jones alongside other budding artists like Gwendolyn Knight (who would later marry Jacob Lawrence).

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Lot 9: BEULAH WOODARD (1895 – 1955), “Bad Boy,” 1937 (painted terracotta). | Estimate $7,000-$10,000

Swann: Beulah Woodard was the first significant African-American female sculptor working on the West Coast.

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Lot 11: AARON DOUGLAS (1899 – 1979), “The Street Urchin,” circa 1938 (oil on linen canvas). | Estimate $30,000-$40,000

Swann: A very scarce canvas from the artist’s 1930s period, “The Street Urchin” is a beautiful example of Aaron Douglas’ portrait painting. Unlike the unabashedly modern style of his mural painting, The Street Urchin embodies the introspective side of the artist.

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Lot 21: ELIZABETH CATLETT (1915 – 2012), “Friends,” 1944 (tempera on paper, mounted to masonite board). | Estimate $30,00-$40,000

Swann: We believe this exciting find is the first painting by Elizabeth Catlett to come to auction.

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Lot 29: ELDZIER CORTOR (1916 – ), Drawing for “Lantern Gate” (Southern Gate),” 1942-43 (brush, pen and ink on cream wove paper). | Estimate $15,000-$25,000

Swann: This drawing is a remarkable study for the [Eldzier Cortor’s] best known painting, Southern Gate, 1942-43, in the collection of the National Museum of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

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Lot 30: LOÏS MAILOU JONES (1905 – 1998), “7th Street Promenade,” circa 1940-45 (tempera on gessoed masonite board). | Estimate $15,000-$25,000

Swann: This early painting by Lois Mailou Jones is a very scarce example of a Washington, DC subject by the artist. 7th Street was in the heart of the large African-American community in the U Street corridor and the Shaw neighborhood of Washington, D.C.

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Lot 41: CHARLES WHITE (1918 – 1979), “Juba,” 1951 (pen and ink on illustration board).| Estimate $75,000-$100,000

Swwann: This exquisitely rendered drawing is a stunning example of Charles White’s work in pen and ink. It is a scarce example – one of only several large pen and ink drawings from the early 1950s that he exhibited in New York.

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Lot 52: ROMARE BEARDEN (1911 – 1988), “Wine Star,” circa 1959-60 (oil on linen canvas). | Estimate $120,000-$180,000

Swann: This beautiful, large canvas is an excellent and scarce example from Romare Bearden’s period of abstract color field painting in the late 1950s.

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Lot 83: MALCOLM BAILEY (1947 – 2011), “Arch Series #1,” 1974 (collage of various printed papers, mounted to stiff paper board). | Estimate $4,000-$6,000

Swann: We believe this collage is only the second work of this artist to come to auction. Malcolm Bailey is best known for his late 1960s polymer paintings with collaged images of slave ships and their human cargo – based on 18th century abolitionist diagrams.

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Lot 85: ALMA W. THOMAS (1891 – 1978), “Fall Atmosphere,” 1971 (acrylic on cotton canvas). | Estimate $50,000-$75,000

Swann: “Fall Atmosphere” is a wonderful example of Alma Thomas’ vertical stripe abstractions from the late 1960s and early 1970s.

Read More: Alma Thomas is Given Pride of Place at the White House

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Lot 86: SAM GILLIAM (1933 – ), “Scatter Pisces,” 1973 (acrylic and flocking on cotton canvas, with canvas collage). | Estimate $15,000-$25,000

Swann: This richly textured painting is a fascinating and scarce example of Sam Gilliam’s work between the stained beveled-edge paintings of 1970-72 and the collaged paintings of mid-1970s.

Read More: Recognition of Sam Gilliam’s Work Continues to Gain Momentum with Auction Record at Christie’s

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Lot 104: BARKLEY L. HENDRICKS (1945 – ), “Tuff Tony,” 1978 (oil and acrylic on linen canvas). | Estimate $120,000-$180,000

Swann: Tuff Tony is an excellent example of Barkley Hendrick’s striking portraits, and one of his most widely exhibited paintings, including “Barkley L. Hendricks” at The Studio Museum in Harlem, New York, N.Y. (Jan. 20-March 30, 1980); “Black Male: Representations of Masculinity in Contemporary American Art” at the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, N.Y. (Nov. 10, 1994-March 5, 1995); and “Barkley L. Hendricks: Birth of the Cool” at Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University, Durham, N.C. (Feb. 7-July 13, 2008).

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Lot 111: JAMES DENMARK (1936 – ), “Untitled (Figure in a Composition),” circa 1980 (mixed paper, fabric collage, and oil on masonite board). | Estimate $12,000-$18,000

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Lot 125: HUGHIE LEE-SMITH (1915 – 1999), “Performers,” 1990 (oil on linen canvas). | Estimate $60,000-$90,0000

Swann: “Performers” is a significant later work by the artist, and the largest painting yet by Hughie Lee-Smith to be offered at auction.

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Lot 137: KARA WALKER (1969 – ), “Freedom, A Fable: A Curious Interpretation of the Wit of a Negress in Troubled Times,” 1997 (bound pop-up book, with offset lithographs and five laser-cut, pop-up silhouettes on wove paper). | Estimate $2,000-$3,000

Swann: Each year, the Peter Norton family commissions an art edition to celebrate the Christmas season and holidays. The book was privately published and gifted to friends.

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Lot 141: TITUS KAPHAR (1976 – ), “Passage,” 2000 (oil and asphalt tar on cotton canvas). | Estimate $6,000-$9,000

Swann: This figurative painting was acquired from one of the artist’s first gallery exhibitions while Kaphar was a BFA student at San Diego State. In late 2014, TIME magazine commissioned Kaphar to create an artwork in response to protests in Ferguson.

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