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Exploring art by and about people of African descent, primarily through the lens of books, magazines and catalogs, Culture Type features original research and reporting and shares invaluable interestingness culled from the published record on black art.

Auctions
Sales Results: New Records at Phillips for Christina Quarles, Ed Clark, Rashid Johnson, and Stanley Whitney, Plus 'Helter Skelter II' by Mark Bradford Hits Auction Block

Sales Results: New Records at Phillips for Christina Quarles, Ed Clark, Rashid Johnson, and Stanley Whitney, Plus ‘Helter Skelter II’ by Mark Bradford Hits Auction Block

  THE SPRING CONTEMPORARY AUCTIONS at Phillips New York featured a variety of works by critically acclaimed African American artists—emerging, mid-career, and long-established figures. Lots sold against the backdrop of Mark Bradford’s “Helter Skelter II” (2007), which was on display behind the auctioneer’s podium over the course of three sales spanning two days. On May...
A Self-Portrait is the Latest Painting By Jordan Casteel to Hit the Auction Block in 2019 and Far Exceed Expectations

A Self-Portrait is the Latest Painting By Jordan Casteel to Hit the Auction Block in 2019 and Far Exceed Expectations

  A SELF-PORTRAIT by Jordan Casteel sold at Phillips last night. The painting tells a visual story. It depicts the artist, documents a chronic health issue, and unpacks a narrative about her life in Denver before she enrolled in the MFA program at Yale and later participated in the artist-in-residence program at the Studio Museum...
'Selective Histories' by Toyin Ojih Odutola Set Auction Record in London, Forthcoming Lot in New York May Surpass Benchmark

‘Selective Histories’ by Toyin Ojih Odutola Set Auction Record in London, Forthcoming Lot in New York May Surpass Benchmark

  SOTHEBY’S RECENT Contemporary Art Evening Auction in London featured 65 lots. Only 13 of the works were by women artists, but the representation was a milestone. According to Sotheby’s, it was the highest proportion of works by women the auction house has ever offered in an evening sale. Each season, the evening sale is...
Repurposed Quilt Work by Sanford Biggers Sets an Artist Record at Phillips London

Repurposed Quilt Work by Sanford Biggers Sets an Artist Record at Phillips London

  THE NEW NOW SALE at Phillips London yielded six artist records, including a new benchmark for Sanford Biggers. “Sag, Harbor Honeystuckle” (2013) by Biggers sold for £27,500 ($35,945) fees included, an artist record, according to the auction house and the Artprice database. The mixed-media work is a repurposed quilt with fabric collage, acrylic, and...
Sotheby's Contemporary Curated Sale Offered Look at Rarely Seen Works by Faith Ringgold, Henry Taylor, Robert Colescott, Romare Bearden, Jack Whitten & More

Sotheby’s Contemporary Curated Sale Offered Look at Rarely Seen Works by Faith Ringgold, Henry Taylor, Robert Colescott, Romare Bearden, Jack Whitten & More

  AFRICAN AMERICAN ARTISTS figured prominently in Sotheby’s recent Contemporary Curated auction. Works by 32 African American artists were offered, some rarely if ever shown publicly including a 2002 portrait of Malcolm X by Henry Taylor acquired directly from the artist and a pair of Robert Colescott interior scenes that give a nod to Roy...
Sotheby's Modern & Contemporary African Art Sale in London Yields 11 Artist Records, El Anatsui Tapestry is Top Lot, Again

Sotheby’s Modern & Contemporary African Art Sale in London Yields 11 Artist Records, El Anatsui Tapestry is Top Lot, Again

  SOTHEBY’S LONDON has held four sales dedicated to modern and contemporary African art and tapestries by El Anatsui have topped three of them, including the most recent on April 2. A 10-foot sculptural tapestry composed of aluminum bottle caps and copper wire, “Zebra Crossing 2” (shown above) was made in 2007 and exceeded expectations....
Swann African American Art Sale Yields Records for Women Artists Including Simone Leigh, Emma Amos, and Howardena Pindell, Top Lot by Norman Lewis

Swann African American Art Sale Yields Records for Women Artists Including Simone Leigh, Emma Amos, and Howardena Pindell, Top Lot by Norman Lewis

  THE LATEST SALE of African-American Fine Art at Swann Auction Galleries resulted in auction records for several living women artists, including Simone Leigh, Emma Amos and Howardena Pindell. In addition, works by Sonya Clark and Allison Janae Hamilton appeared at auction for the first time and established benchmarks well above their estimates. Lot 171:...
Auction Debut: 'Lilith,' a Mixed-Media Figurative Painting, by Tschabalala Self Sells for Twice its Estimate at Phillips London

Auction Debut: ‘Lilith,’ a Mixed-Media Figurative Painting, by Tschabalala Self Sells for Twice its Estimate at Phillips London

  PHILLIPS OPENED its latest contemporary evening auction in London with a mixed-media painting by Tschabalala Self. According to Phillips, “Lilith” (2015) is the first artwork by the artist to come to auction. The figurative work sold for £125,000 ($163,875 including fees), which was more than twice the estimate. The lot was sold at Phillips...
Artist Record: 'Special Checking' by Jack Whitten Sells for $2.6 Million at Sotheby's

Artist Record: ‘Special Checking’ by Jack Whitten Sells for $2.6 Million at Sotheby’s

  A DRAMATIC AND TRANSFIXING painting by Jack Whitten (1939-2018) set a new artist record at Sotheby’s on Friday. Whitten’s “Special Checking” (1974) sold for for $2,660,000 including fees. (The hammer price was $2.2 million.) Given Sotheby’s set the estimate for the painting at $300,000-$500,000, the sales price was about five times the high estimate....
Soaring Past $7 Million, 'Untitled (Painter)' by Kerry James Marshall is Top Seller at Sotheby's New York

Soaring Past $7 Million, ‘Untitled (Painter)’ by Kerry James Marshall is Top Seller at Sotheby’s New York

  A ROUND OF APPLAUSE emerged from the auction floor Friday afternoon when “Untitled (Painter)” by Kerry James Marshall sold for well beyond its estimate. The 2008 painting, a portrait of a distinguished black painter in her studio, was estimated by Sotheby’s to sell for $1.8 to $2.5 million. When bidding concluded, the hammer price...
Lot of 38 Portraits by Malick Sidibé Tops Swann Photography Sale, Roy DeCarava Image of Harlem Dancers Sets Artist Record

Lot of 38 Portraits by Malick Sidibé Tops Swann Photography Sale, Roy DeCarava Image of Harlem Dancers Sets Artist Record

  BLACK ARTISTS LED the Photographs: Art & Visual Culture sale at Swann Auction Galleries on Feb. 21. A group of 38 silver prints in custom frames by Malick Sidibé (1936-2016) was the top lot. The photos yielded $87,500 (including fees), an artist record, according to Swann. The individual and group portraits were made by...
Theaster Gates, the Chicago-based Cross-Disciplinary Artist and Urban Visionary, Has Joined Gagosian Gallery

Theaster Gates, the Chicago-based Cross-Disciplinary Artist and Urban Visionary, Has Joined Gagosian Gallery

“A Flag for the Least of Them” (2018) by Theaster Gates   CHICAGO-BASED ARTIST Theaster Gates is now represented by Gagosian gallery. Over the past decade, Gates has gained global renown for his unique social practice focused on preservation, restoration, and archiving. Constantly traveling, he has captivated the international art world with his vision for...
Crushing Decade-Old Auction Record, 'The Businessmen' by Jacob Lawrence Soars to $6.1 Million, Placing Him Among the Most Expensive African American Artists

Crushing Decade-Old Auction Record, ‘The Businessmen’ by Jacob Lawrence Soars to $6.1 Million, Placing Him Among the Most Expensive African American Artists

  BEST KNOWN FOR HIS HISTORY PAINTING—multi-panel series about Harriet Tubman, Frederick Douglass, and the Great Migration, among many others—artist Jacob Lawrence (1917-2000) has made auction history. “The Businessmen,” a 1947 painting by Lawrence sold for more than $6.1 million (including fees) last night at Sotheby’s New York. The price far exceeded the estimate which...
'Ancient Mentor I' by Jack Whitten Reaches $2.2 Million, Establishing New Artist Record, More Than Twice His Previous Auction High Mark

‘Ancient Mentor I’ by Jack Whitten Reaches $2.2 Million, Establishing New Artist Record, More Than Twice His Previous Auction High Mark

Detail of “Ancient Mentor I” (1985) by Jack Whitten   A SPECTACULAR PAINTING by Jack Whitten (1939-2018) established a new artist record yesterday evening. “Ancient Mentor I” (1985) sold for $2,235,000 (including fees) at Sotheby’s New York. The new benchmark shattered Whitten’s previous auction high, which was set by “The Ghost of Joseph Beuys” one...