Lindsay Pollock highlights Swann Galleries’ upcoming African American sale. The latest edition of the biannual sale is 163 lots and estimated as high as $1.9m. Recent sales have done well but consistently failed to breakout in a meaningful way. This may be a reflection of the heavy institutional interest in the field. Nonetheless, the February sale is back up to early 2009 levels in terms of lots after steep decline in October of 31%:
Star lots range from Malvin Gray Johnson’s soulful Harlem Renaissance era Swing Low, Sweet Chariot (est. $200,000-$250,000) to Barkley L. Hendrick’s groovy 1975 Jackie Sha-La-La (est. $40,000-$60,000). […] Johnson’s 1928-1929 Swing Low, Sweet Chariot, based on the Negro spiritual, is among just 60 known works by Johnson, who died at the age of 44. The painting was the first by an African-American artist to receive critical and commercial success in the U.S., according to Swann, winning the Harmon prize in 1929. The canvas was recently re-discovered
The Barkley Hendricks work featured in October’s sale–Bid ’em In/Slave–did gangbusters with a $144,000 selling price substantially over the estimate range.
Harlem Renaissance to Hammons at Swann (Lindsay Pollock)