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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
'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...
Nearing $1 Million, Henry Taylor's 'I'll Put a Spell on You' Sets New Artist Record

Nearing $1 Million, Henry Taylor’s ‘I’ll Put a Spell on You’ Sets New Artist Record

  AUCTION PRICES for paintings by Henry Taylor have reached a new realm. This evening, “I’ll Put a Spell on You” (2004) set a new benchmark at Sotheby’s New York. Bids flew past the estimate and the artist’s existing record. Amid the flurry, auctioneer Oliver Barker said “A lot of Henry Taylor collectors here.” After...
Record Breakers? Paintings by Jack Whitten, Sam Gilliam, Barkley L. Hendricks, and Other African American Artists Priced to Set New Auction Highs This Week

Record Breakers? Paintings by Jack Whitten, Sam Gilliam, Barkley L. Hendricks, and Other African American Artists Priced to Set New Auction Highs This Week

Sotheby’s is auctioning “Ancient Mentor I” (1985) by Jack Whitten on Nov. 14 in New York. | Video by Sotheby’s   WORKS BY SOME OF THE MOST POPULAR, expensive, and critically recognized African American artists are featured in this week’s auctions at Sotheby’s, Christie’s, and Phillips in New York. Several lots will arrive at the...
Georgia O'Keeffe Made 5 Portraits of Beauford Delaney, 1 is For Sale at Christie's

Georgia O’Keeffe Made 5 Portraits of Beauford Delaney, 1 is For Sale at Christie’s

  EVENTUALLY HER SUBJECTS WERE flowers, bones, and the New Mexico landscape, the Modern images for which she is best known. But over the course of her career, Georgia O’Keeffe (1887-1986) also made a very limited number of portraits. Beauford Delaney (1901-1979) was her most frequent sitter. She made five portraits of the artist—three charcoal...
City of Chicago Pulls Kerry James Marshall Painting From Christie's Auction After Public Outcry and Artist's Objection to Sale

City of Chicago Pulls Kerry James Marshall Painting From Christie’s Auction After Public Outcry and Artist’s Objection to Sale

“Knowledge and Wonder” (1995) by Kerry James Marshall.   CHRISTIE’S WON’T BE SELLING “Knowledge and Wonder” by Kerry James Marshall after all. The 1995 site-specific mural was commissioned by the City of Chicago for the Legler Branch Library, where it was on display for more than two decades. On Oct. 1, the auction house announced...
Sotheby's Estimates 'The Businessmen,' a 1947 Painting by Jacob Lawrence, Will Sell for More than $1.5 Million

Sotheby’s Estimates ‘The Businessmen,’ a 1947 Painting by Jacob Lawrence, Will Sell for More than $1.5 Million

“The Businessmen” (1947) by Jacob Lawrence   THE WHITE HOUSE ACQUISITION TRUST purchased “The Builders” by Jacob Lawrence (1917-2000) from Christie’s auction house on May 24, 2007. A few months later, First Lady Laura Bush had already incorporated the 1947 painting into her renovation of the Green Room, a formal sitting room on the State...
Charles White Drawing Tops Swann African American Art Sale, 12 Artists Achieve Auction Records

Charles White Drawing Tops Swann African American Art Sale, 12 Artists Achieve Auction Records

  DAYS BEFORE THE OPENING of “Charles White: A Retrospective” at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York on Oct. 7, a dramatic drawing by the pivotal, 20th-century figure topped the latest African-American Fine Art sale at Swann Auction Galleries. “Nobody Knows My Name #1” sold for $485,000 (including fees) on Oct. 4....
Early Rashid Johnson Photograph Covers Swann's Fall African American Art Catalog

Early Rashid Johnson Photograph Covers Swann’s Fall African American Art Catalog

“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...
Hundreds of African American Artifacts Hit the Auction Block at Guernsey's: Rosa Parks House Went Unsold, Unpublished Malcolm X Material Landed at Schomburg

Hundreds of African American Artifacts Hit the Auction Block at Guernsey’s: Rosa Parks House Went Unsold, Unpublished Malcolm X Material Landed at Schomburg

  SPANNING CIVIL RIGHTS, SLAVERY, MUSIC AND FILM, historic treasures and one-of-a-kind documents related to key figures of African American history and culture were auctioned at Guernsey’s in New York on July 25 and 26. The headliner was a true rarity—the family home of Rosa Parks, which once stood in Detroit, where it had been...
At Sotheby's, New Painting by Lorna Simpson Sets Artist's First Six-Figure Record

At Sotheby’s, New Painting by Lorna Simpson Sets Artist’s First Six-Figure Record

Lorna Simpson in her studio with “Day for Night” (2018) panels before they are painted.   AN ARCHIVAL IMAGE of a woman standing precariously on the window ledge of a brick building inspired “Day for Night” (2018), a four-panel painting by Lorna Simpson. The new work sold for $375,000 including fees at Sotheby’s New York...
Studio Museum in Harlem Sale Raises $20.2 Million at Sotheby's, Yields 24 Artist Records

Studio Museum in Harlem Sale Raises $20.2 Million at Sotheby’s, Yields 24 Artist Records

WATCH The sale of Mark Bradford’s “Speak, Birdman” (2018) to benefit the Studio Museum in Harlem’s new building fund. Bids started at $1.6 million and quickly climbed to $5.8 million, the hammer price, which amounted to $6,776,200 with fees. | Video by Sotheby’s   FIFTY YEARS AFTER AFRICAN AMERICAN ARTISTS played a prominent role in...
Njideka Akunyili Crosby Sets New Auction Record with Non-Figurative Painting, Proceeds Benefit Studio Museum in Harlem

Njideka Akunyili Crosby Sets New Auction Record with Non-Figurative Painting, Proceeds Benefit Studio Museum in Harlem

“Bush Babies” (2017) by Njideka Akunyili Crosby.   THE AUCTION PRICE FOR A PAINTING by Njideka Akunyili Crosby climbed a bit higher last week. “Bush Babies” by the Nigerian-born, Los Angeles-based artist sold for nearly $3.4 million including fees at Sotheby’s New York, a new artist record. Her previous high was just north of $3...
Two 1970s-Era Portraits by Barkley L. Hendricks Top $2 Million at Sotheby's, Shattering the Artist's Previous Record

Two 1970s-Era Portraits by Barkley L. Hendricks Top $2 Million at Sotheby’s, Shattering the Artist’s Previous Record

BARKLEY L. HENDRICKS, “Brenda P,” 1974   A STRIKING PORTRAIT of a statuesque woman named Brenda P set a new auction record for Barkley L. Hendricks (1945-2017) on Wednesday at Sotheby’s Contemporary Art Evening Auction in New York. The 1974 painting sold for $2.1 million including fees, which was twice the high estimate and shattered...
Kerry James Marshall's 'Past Times' Soars to Record-Setting $21.1 Million at Sotheby's, Artist Assumes Mantle as Most Expensive Living African American Artist

Kerry James Marshall’s ‘Past Times’ Soars to Record-Setting $21.1 Million at Sotheby’s, Artist Assumes Mantle as Most Expensive Living African American Artist

  A GRAND-SCALE PAINTING by Kerry James Marshall had bidders battling last night. Marshall’s “Past Times” (1997) soared beyond the high estimate and sold for $18.5 million ($21.1 million, including fees). The high bid came by phone, setting an artist record. The painting was featured in Sotheby’s May 16 Contemporary Art Evening Auction and carried...