SPRING IS A RECURRING THEME in the abstract paintings of Alma Thomas (1891-1978), who lived and worked in Washington, D.C. Her rhythmic compositions were inspired by the rustling leaves on the Holly Tree outside the bay window in the front room of her home. Thomas also visited the National Arboretum to “get impressions,” as she told a Washington Post reporter two months before she died.

 


Lot 4: ALMA THOMAS (1891-1978), “Flash of Spring,” 1968 (oil on canvas board, 24 x 18 inches / 61 x 45.7 cm). | Estimate $450,000-$650,000. Sold for $819,000 fees included. SECOND-HIGHEST PRICE AT AUCTION

 

“Flash of Spring” epitomizes her spring works. Evoking the season’s energy and sense of renewal, the 1968 painting showcases the dynamic manner in which Thomas employed color. The painting was offered for sale at Christie’s New York last week.

On March 5,” Flash of Spring” sold for $819,000 (fees included) in the Post-War to Present sale. The result exceeded the estimate ($450,000-$600,000) and was among the top lots in the auction (No. 3).

The sale featured 179 lots, including works by Thomas, Charles White (1918-1979), and Beauford Delaney (1901-1979)—three important 19th century figures—offered at the beginning of the sale.

MAJOR PAINTINGS by Thomas (“A Fantastic Sunset,” 1970) and White (“Banner for Willie J,” 1976) appeared in Christie’s Post-War and Contemporary Art Evening Sale last fall, on Nov. 13. The celebrated artists were represented in the evening auction for the first time and both Thomas and White set new artist records, $2,655,000 and $1,215,000, respectively. (White’s was surpassed the next evening when “Ye Shall Inherit the Earth” reached $1,760,000, where his record stands.)

A graphite drawing by White, was offered in the latest sale. White’s community of fellow artists included jazz musicians and vocalists and he made images for a number of their album covers. “Brother John Sellers” (1954) was commissioned by Vanguard Records to illustrate the cover of “Brother John Sellers Sings Blues and Folk.” The work sold for $187,500 against an estimate of $80,000-$120,000.

In addition, the auction included works by Sam Gilliam, Nina Chanel Abney, Derek Fordjour, Stanley Whitney, Robert Colescott (1925-2009), Rashid Johnson, Theaster Gates, Gary Simmons, and Yinka Shonibare. CT

 

BOOKSHELF
A fully illustrated catalog, “Charles White: A Retrospective” accompanied the traveling exhibition organized by the Art Institute of Chicago and Museum of Modern Art. “Alma Thomas” is a comprehensive monograph co-authored by Ian Berry and Lauren Haynes published to accompany an exhibition they co-curated and presented at the Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery at Skidmore College and Studio Museum in Harlem. “Beauford Delaney and James Baldwin: Through the Unusual Door” documents the exhibition currently on view at the Knoxville Museum of Art.

 


Lot 3: CHARLES WHITE (1918-1979), “Brother John Sellers,” 1954 (ink and graphite on illustration board, 25 x 29 inches / 63.5 x 73.7 cm). | Estimate $80,000-$120,000. Sold for $187,500 fees included

 


Lot 5: BEAUFORD DELAEY, (1901-1979), Untitled, 1960 (oil on canvas, 32 x 25 ¾ inches / 81 x 65.4 cm). | Estimate $80,000-$120,000. Sold for $93,750 fees included

 


Lot 40: SAM GILLIAM (b. 1933), “Diamas,” 1964 (acrylic on canvas, 81 x 81 inches / 205.7 x 205.7 cm). | Estimate $60,000-$80,000. Sold for $75,000 fees included

 


Lot 205: DEREK FORDJOUR (b. 1974), “No. 93,” 2018 (oil pastel, charcoal, acrylic, cardboard and newspaper mounted on canvas, 30 x 24 inches / 76.2 x 61 cm). | Estimate $40,000-$60,000. Sold for $81,250 fees included

 

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