Lot 3: LYNETTE YIADOM-BOAKYE, “An Assistance of Amber,” 2017 (oil on linen). | Estimate $100,000-$150,000. Sold for $555,000 including fees


THE STUDIO MUSEUM IN HARLEM and Sotheby’s are collaborating on a major sale of works by some of the most prominent and critically recognized artists of African descent working today. Artists including Mark Bradford, Njideka Akunyili Crosby, Sam Gilliam, Glenn Ligon, Chris Ofili and Lorna Simpson, are donating their art to benefit the Studio Museum, which is raising funds to support its new building project.

Titled “Creating Space: Artists for the Studio Museum in Harlem,” the New York auction features a variety of works in terms of mediums and price points. The lots are incorporated into Sotheby’s Contemporary Art sales on May 16-17.

The list of 42 participating artists is diverse, including established, mid-career, and emerging figures. Each of the artists has ties to the Studio Museum either through an exhibition(s), residency, artist prize, job, or internship.

A special digital catalog has been published providing background information about the history of the museum, which was established 50 years ago, the new David Adjaye-designed building expected to open in 2021, and the art being offered. Each lot detail includes the artist’s exhibition history with the Studio Museum, along with standard specifications about the work. Almost all of the works were made in recent years, many in 2017 and 2018.

The contributions are generally representative of each artist’s practice, with welcome departures such as “Bush Babies” (2017) by Akunyili Crosby, a Studio Museum Artist-in-Residence (2011-12) who won the institution’s Joyce Alexander Wien Artist Prize in 2015. The prominent figures Akunyili Crosby is known for are absent in the painting. However, another signature feature of her work—collaged magazine pages—is present. If you look closely, many figures from the printed pages can be found within the layered image.

A 2015-16 Artist-in-Residence at the Studio Museum, Jordan Casteel is recognized for her portraits of black men. She contributed “Lost Tribes” (2018), a painting that is a focused detail of a man’s hands holding an open book. Although it is more modest in scale than her portraits, the lot may exceed the estimate given interest in her work is steadily growing and her first major museum exhibition will open early next year.

Other works also stand out. Brooklyn-based Simpson’s “Day for Night” (2018), for example, a four-panel painting, reflects the fresh new direction of her work and carries an estimate that would set an artist record if reached. Simpson won the Wein prize in 2006 and the following year had a solo show at the Studio Museum. CT

The following artists are participating in the benefit auction:

    Derrick Adams
    Kevin Beasley
    Sanford Biggers
    McArthur Binion
    Frank Bowling
    Mark Bradford
    Jordan Casteel
    Njideka Akunyili Crosby
    Stan Douglas
    Leonardo Drew
    Melvin Edwards
    Charles Gaines
    Theaster Gates
    Sam Gilliam
    Leslie Hewitt
    Steffani Jemison
    Rashid Johnson
    Isaac Julien
    Titus Kaphar
    Glenn Ligon
    Eric N. Mack
    Julie Mehretu
    Wardell Milan
    Oscar Murillo
    Wangechi Mutu
    Kori Newkirk
    Toyin Ojih Odutola
    Chris Ofili
    Adam Pendleton
    Robert Pruitt
    Yinka Shonibare MBE
    Gary Simmons
    Xaviera Simmons
    Lorna Simpson
    Shinique Smith
    Hank Willis Thomas
    William Villalongo
    Nari Ward
    Carrie Mae Weems
    Stanley Whitney
    Kehinde Wiley
    Lynette Yiadom-Boakye

WATCH VIDEO about the Studio Museum sale at Sotheby’s


UPDATE (05/16/18) and (5/17/18): This post has bee updated with sales results.

Contemporary Art Evening Auction, May 16

Lot 1: MARK BRADFORD, “Speak, Birdman,” 2018 (mixed media on canvas, 59.5 x 70.5 inches). | Estimate $2,000,000-$3,000,000. Sold for $6,776,200 including fees


Lot 2: JULIE MEHRETU, “Conjured Parts (Dresden),” 2017 (ink and acrylic on canvas, 84 x 96 inches). | Estimate $1,000,000-$1,500,000. Sold for $3,375,000 including fees


Julie Mehretu has a forthcoming retrospective in 2019. The catalog note advises bidders a loan of the above work may be requested for the exhibition at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and subsequent venues.


Lot 5: NJIDEKA AKUNYILI CROSBY, “Bush Babies,” 2017 (acrylic, transfers, colored pencil and collage on paper, 72 x 60 inches). | Estimate $600,000-$800,000. Sold for $3,375,000 including fees. RECORD

Contemporary Art Day Auction, May 17

Lot 302: JORDAN CASTEEL, “Lost Tribes,” 2018 (oil on canvas, 24 x 32 inches). | Estimate $15,000-$20,000. Sold for $81,250 including fees. RECORD


Lot 305: ADAM PENDLETON, “Untitled (June 30th),” 2018 (silkscreen ink on Mylar, in 4 parts, each: 38 by 29 inches). | Estimate $40,000-$60,000. Sold for $112,500 including fees


Lot 307: ROBERT PRUITT, “Magnificent Medusa,” 2016 (charcoal, pastel and colored pencil on paper, 50 x 38 inches). | Estimate $7,000-$9,000. Sold for $32,500 including fees


Lot 313: KORI NEWKIRK, “Pathmark II,” 2018 (aluminum, artificial hair and plastic pony beads, 44 x 36 inches). | Estimate $20,000-$30,000. Sold for $27,500 including fees. RECORD


Lot 314: THEASTER GATES, “Stars Over Harlem,” 2015 (fire hose and wood, 60 x 62 x 8 inches). | Estimate $250,000-$350,000. Sold for $459,000 including fees. RECORD


Lot 315: FRANK BOWLING, “Emerging,” 2014 (acrylic on canvas, 73 1/8 x 32 5/8 in). | Estimate $60,000-$80,000. Sold for $118,750 including fees

Lot 320: LORNA SIMPSON, “Day for Night,” 2018 (ink and acrylic on gessoed wood, 4 parts – overall: 67 x 200 inches). | Estimate $250,000-$350,000. Sold for $375,000 including fees. RECORD


Lot 327: DERRICK ADAMS, 2017 (acrylic, pencil and fabric on paper, 50 x 50 inches). | Estimate $20,000-$30,000. Sold for $81,250 including fees. RECORD


Lot 330: GARY SIMMONS, “Goodby Love,” 2017 (mixed media on canvas, 72 x 76 inches). | Estimate $50,000-$70,000. Sold for $93,750 including fees. RECORD


Lot 337: LEONARDO DREW, “Number 56X,” 2018 (acrylic, plaster and wood, 24 x 24 x 6 inches). | Estimate $30,000-$50,000. Sold for $60,000 including fees. RECORD


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