“Jonathan with Hands” (1997) by Rashid Johnson


A DRAMATICALLY LIT, close-cropped portrait by Rashid Johnson covers the catalog for the African-American Fine Art sale at Swann Auction Galleries on Oct. 4. Johnson’s subject obscures his face with his hands, which are the focus of the image. The gesture is emotional and his fingers—their knuckles and nails and the life-worn wrinkles in between—are full of character.

The Chicago-born, New York-based artist made the photograph using the 19th century Van Dyle printing process, a multi-step undertaking that involved a large-format camera, hand-painting with minerals, and sun drying. “Jonathan with Hands” was featured in “Freestyle,” Thelma Golden’s inaugural exhibition of emerging artists at the Studio Museum in Harlem in 2001.

Sylvia Chivaratanond wrote about the photograph in the “Freestyle” catalog and explained how the image came about. “…this recent series focuses on the homeless black men in his immediate surroundings. …while still an undergraduate at Columbia College in Chicago, Johnson started to photograph this often disenfranchised segment of the population,” Chivaratanond wrote.

“What began as a quasi-socio/political project that took him from photographing on the streets to capturing intimate portraits in his studio, ended in this series, which includes ‘Jonathan,’ ‘Jonathan’s Eyes,’ and ‘Jonathan with Hands.'”

“…this recent series focuses on the homeless black men in his immediate surroundings. …while still an undergraduate at Columbia College in Chicago, [Rashid] Johnson started to photograph this often disenfranchised segment of the population.”

Forty-one-year-old Johnson was barely in his 20s when he completed the series. Swann inaugurated its African American fine art auctions in 2007 and traditionally the sales have concentrated on historic art and early and mid-20th century works. Over the past several years, more works by living contemporary artists have appeared in the sales. “Jonathan with Hands” (1997) is the most recently created work to grace the cover of a Swann African-American Fine Art catalog.

THE FORTHCOMING AUCTION includes a wide-range of mediums, photography, along with paintings, prints, drawings, and sculpture. There are 185 lots with estimates ranging from $1,000 to $300,000.

The top lots include two sculptures by Elizabeth Catlett, paintings by Beauford Delaney, Eldzier Cortor, Hughie Lee-Smith, Alvin D. Loving Jr., and Sam Gilliam, and “Nobody Knows My Name #1,” a 1965 drawing by Charles White. A retrospective of White opens at the Museum of Modern Art on Oct. 7.

Works by a few other artists with significant exhibitions this fall are for sale, among them, Ed Clark, whose first New York survey in nearly 40 years opens Sept. 14 at Mnuchin Gallery, Dawoud Bey (FRONT International: Cleveland Triennial for Contemporary Art, National Gallery of Art), Joseph Delaney (Knoxville Museum of Art), Howardena Pindell (Virginia Museum of Fine Arts), and Augusta Savage (Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens).

Other highlights include works by Emma Amos, Romare Bearden, Melvin Edwards, Daniel LaRue Johnson, Noah Purifoy, Betye Saar, and William T. Williams, along with White, artists featured in “Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power.” The groundbreaking exhibition opens Sept. 14 at the Brooklyn Museum.

From the collection of Dr. Robert H. Derden, 12 works of art have been consigned for sale. The Chicago collector is a clinical psychologist. His collection was the focus of “The Dr. Robert H. Derden Collection: A Black Collector’s Odyssey in Contemporary Art.” The 1990 exhibition presented 47 works at the Community Gallery of Art at the College of Lake County in Grayslake, Ill.

From Derden’s holdings, the auction features works by Pindell, Willie Cole, Robert Colescott, and Kara Walker. The Johnson photograph that appears on the front of the catalog is also from the collection, as are lots by Bey, Lorna Simpson, and Carrie Mae Weems. CT


UPDATED (10/4/18): To reflect auction results


TOP IMAGE: Lot 171: RASHID JOHNSON (1977 – ), “Jonathan with Hands,” 1997 (Van Dyke Brown photo-emulsion print on heavy wove paper, Artist’s proof). | Estimate $7,000-$10,000. Sold for $52,000 (hammer price) / $65,000 (including fees)


READ MORE about how artists might benefit from secondary market sales in a recent article that makes the case for artist resale royalties


“Rashid Johnson: Message to Our Folks” accompanied the artist’s first major solo museum exhibition organized by MCA Chicago. “An American Odyssey: The Life and Work of Romare buy xanax Bearden,” Mary Schmidt Campbell’s definitive biography of Bearden was just published. “Howardena Pindell: What Remains To Be Seen” coincides with Howardena Pindell’s five-decade retrospective. “Hughie Lee Smith (The David C. Driskell Series of African American Art)” is authored by Leslie King-Hammond. The Museum of Modern Art and Art Institute of Chicago co-published, “Charles White: A Retrospective,” a fully illustrated exhibition catalog to accompany the Charles White retrospective.


Lot 63: HUGHIE LEE-SMITH (1915 – 1999), “Man with Balloons,” 1960 (oil on linen canvas). | $150,000-$250,000. Sold for $120,000 (hammer price) / $149,000 (including fees)


Lot 8: AUGUSTA SAVAGE (1892 – 1962), “Head of a Young Girl (Martiniquaise),” circa 1925-35 (painted plaster mounted on a marble base). | Estimate $8,000-$12,000. Sold for $12,000 (hammer price) / $15,000 (including fees)


The original owner of this sculpture was Sarah West. According to Swann, she “was a close friend of Augusta Savage; she taught textiles, block prints and metal crafts at the Harlem Community Art Center during the WPA period (1937 -1942) when Savage was the director.”


Lot 17: BEAUFORD DELANEY (1901 – 1979), “Untitled (The Artist and Woman Seated),” 1940 (oil on linen canvas). | Estimate $200,000-$300,000. UNSOLD


Lot 20: ELIZABETH CATLETT, “Head (Head of a Man),” 1943 (carved stone). | Estimate $200,000-$300,000. UNSOLD


Artist Charles White, the original owner of this sculpture, was married to Elizabeth Catlett when she made it. According to Swann, “This artwork has never been exhibited publicly before and is the earliest sculpture by the artist to come to auction.”


Lot 23: FREDERICK D. JONES (1914 – 2004), “Couple,” circa 1945-50 (watercolor on wove paper). | Estimate $4,000-$6,000. Sold for $3,200 (hammer price) / $4,000 (including fees)


Lot 33: LOÏS MAILOU JONES (1905 – 1998), “Paris le Soir,” circa 1948-50 (oil on linen canvas). | Estimate $12,000-$18,000. Sold for $26,000 (hammer price) / $32,500 (including fees)


Lot 40: WALTER WILLIAMS (1920 – 1988), “Untitled (Seated Man with Bowed Head),” 1951 (oil on linen canvas). | Estimate $35,000-$50,000. Sold for $58,000 (hammer price) / $72,500 (including fees)


Lot 86: ALVIN D. LOVING JR. (1935 – 2006), “Variations on a Square,” 1965 (oil with charcoal on cotton canvas). | Estimate $80,000-$120,000. UNSOLD


According to Swann, Al Loving Jr., wrote “this painting Variations on a Square was done as part of my graduation thesis show. It was one of the very last oil paintings I did. …it was the forerunner to the geometric abstractions that started my career in N.Y.”


Lot 142: HUGHIE LEE-SMITH (1915 – 1999), “End of Act One, ” 1987 (oil on linen canvas). | Estimate $60,000-$90,000. Sold for $65,000 (hammer price) / $81,250 (including fees)


Lot 78: CHARLES WHITE (1918 – 1979), “Nobody Knows My Name #1,” 1965 (charcoal and crayon on illustration board). | Estimate $100,000-$150,000. Sold for $400,000 (hammer price)/$485,000 (including fees) TOP LOT


Lot 91: NOAH PURIFOY, “Untitled (66 Signs of Neon),” circa 1966 (mixed media assemblage, including burnt wood, acrylic, stencil and color felt, on plywood board). | Estimate $30,000-$40,000. Sold for $65,000 (hammer price) / $81,250 (including fees)


Lot 110: ROMARE BEARDEN (1911 – 1988), “Untitled (Street Scene),” 1973 (collage of mixed printed papers on masonite board). | Estimate $25,000-$35,000


Lot 135: MELVIN EDWARDS (1937 – ), “Lusaka,” 1980 (welded steel). | Estimate $30,000-$40,000. Sold for $56,000 (hammer price) / $70,000 (including fees) RECORD


Lot 145: ROBERT COLESCOTT (1925 – 2009), “Down in the Dumps: So Long Sweetheart,” 1983 (acrylic on cotton canvas). | Estimate $35,000-$50,000. Sold for $270,000 (hammer price) / $329,999 (including fees) RECORD


Lot 148: EMMA AMOS (1938 – ), “Arched Swimmer,” circa 1987 (acrylic with glitter and various fabric and threads on linen canvas). | Estimate $10,000-$15,000. Sold for $32,000 (hammer price) / $40,000 (including fees) RECORD


Lot 152: STANLEY WHITNEY (1946 – ), “Radical Openness,” 1991 (oil on cotton canvas). | Estimate $35,000-$50,000. Sold for $150,000 (hammer price) / $185,000 (including fees)


Lot 164: DAWOUD BEY (1953 – ), “Five Children, Syracuse, NY.,” 1985 (silver print). | Estimate $1,200-$1,800. Sold for $1,400 (hammer price) / $1,750 (including fees)


Lot 185: TRENTON DOYLE HANCOCK (1974 – ), “Various Ossi-Units and Good Vegan Detritus #4,” 2007 (mixed media on wove paper). | Estimate $1,500-$2,500. Sold for $2,800 (hammer price) / $3,500 (including fees)


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