PAINTED RED and constructed of wood and foam core “Miss Lovie’s Shack” (1989) by Beverly Buchanan (1940–2015) set a new auction record for the artist reaching $20,000, including fees. The result far-exceeded the estimate, which was $3,000-$5,000.

The sculpture sold at Rago auction house in Lambertville, N.J., where it was featured in the Post-War and Contemporary Art sale on Sept. 17. Two of Buchanan’s shack works were offered in the sale and both exceeded her previous record. “Miss Flossie’s Shack” (1989) also sold for exponentially more than expected ($16,250).

The artist’s previous record was $7,995 for a pair of large-scale shack drawings sold last year at Brunk Auctions in Asheville, N.C. The highest price for a shack sculpture by Buchanan was previously $4,994 for “Harnett County Shack” (1988), achieved in 2019 at Capsule Gallery Auction in New York, N.Y. (where the estimate was a paltry $200-$400).

 


Lot 184: BEVERLY BUCHANAN (1940–2015), “Miss Lovie’s Shack,” 1989 (acrylic on foam core, wood, 19¼ h × 10¾ w × 12¼ d inches / 49 × 27 × 31 cm). | Estimate: $3,000–5,000. Sold for $20,000 fees included. RECORD

 

NORTH CAROLINA-BORN Buchanan worked in a variety of mediums, including painting, drawing, photography, video, and land art. She also made sculptures, stacked concrete ruins and roughly assembled shacks that looked like scale models. She is best known for the shacks, which pay homage to hand-built structures found in Black communities in the rural South.

Throughout her practice, Buchanan explored the intersections of memory and history, geography and place. Her shack structures directly engage these themes. The sculptures represent tobacco barns and interpret the shack-style houses the artist first encountered growing up and later observed on her travels throughout Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina.

The sculptures are not replicas of actual buildings, but do serve as anthropological portraits, giving visibility to a largely unseen culture and specific individuals and families, real and imagined, as exemplified by the titles of the auctioned works: “Miss Lovie’s Shack” and “Miss Flossie’s Shack.”

Throughout her practice, Beverly Buchanan explored the intersections of memory and history, geography and place. Her shack structures directly engage these themes.


Lot 184: BEVERLY BUCHANAN (1940–2015), “Miss Flossie’s Shack,” 1989 (acrylic on foam core, wood 16¼ h × 9½ w × 12½ d inches / 41 × 24 × 32 cm). | Estimate: $2,000–3,000. Sold for $16,250 fees included

 

According to Andrew Edlin Gallery in New York, Buchanan began to refrain from using color around 1989, choosing instead to work with recycled Georgia heart pine, leaving it untreated and emphasizing its natural grain, texture, and tone. (Later, some works were assembled with raw, commercial lumber.) Buchanan’s decision to forego color at that time, would make the red structures featured in the auction, which are dated 1989, among the last painted shacks made in that period, before she reintroduced color nearly a decade later in 2008.

ALSO AMONG THE AUCTION HIGHLIGHTS were Kehinde Wiley‘s “Louis XVI, The Sun King” (2006) and “St. Francis of Adelaide” (2006). The works represent the artist’s first experience expressing himself through sculpture. Similar to his painted portraits, Wiley’s sculptures reimagine renowned European works with young Black men as subjects.

The editioned cast marble dust and resin busts were produced by the now-shuttered Cerealart Projects, which specialized in three-dimensional multiples in Philadelphia. Carrying estimates of $10,000-$15,000, the lots sold in line with expectations.

There were 99 lots in the Rago sale. Works by Darryl Cowherd, Wilfredo Lam, and Alison Saar were also offered. Lots by Charles Gaines, Rashid Johnson, and Tony Lewis went unsold. CT

 

FIND MORE “Beverly Buchanan—Ruins and Rituals,” the largest, most comprehensive exhibition of Beverly Buchanan was organized by the Brooklyn Museum (2016-17) and traveled to the Spelman College Museum of Fine Art

 


Lot 149: KEHINDE WILEY (Born 1977), “Louis XVI, The Sun King,” 2006 (cast marble dust, resin, 9½ h × 8½ w × 5 d inches / 24 × 22 × 13 cm), Artist’s proof 22/23 apart from the edition of 250, hand signed and numbered. | Estimate $10,000–15,000. Sold for $15,000, fees included

 


Lot 151: KEHINDE WILEY (Born 1977), “St. Francis of Adelaide,” 2006 (cast marble dust, resin 11¾ h × 8½ w × 6 d inches / 30 × 22 × 15 cm), Artist’s proof 22/23 apart from the edition of 250, hand signed and numbered. | Estimate $10,000–15,000. Sold for $16,250 fees included

 

BOOKSHELF
Spelman College Museum of Fine Art published a brochure to accompany its presentation of “Beverly Buchanan—Ruins and Rituals,” the largest, most comprehensive of the artist, which was organized by the Brooklyn Museum. “Beverly Buchanan: Marsh Ruins” focuses on one sculpture by the artist. The Marsh Ruins are “large, solid mounds of cement and shell-based tabby concrete…hiding in the tall grasses and brackish waters of the Marshes of Glynn, on the southeast coast of Georgia.” “The Obama Portraits” documents the presidential portrait project at the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery that resulted in Kehinde Wiley painting the official portrait of President Barack Obama and Amy Sherald depicting First Lady Michelle Obama. “Kehinde Wiley: A New Republic” was published on the occasion of the artist’s 10-year survey organized by the Brooklyn Museum. “Kehinde Wiley: Saint Louis,” accompanied a recent exhibition at the Saint Louis Art Museum.

 

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