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A painting by Barkley L. Hendricks will head to auction next week during Sotheby’s contemporary art day sale in New York on November 17. Jackie Sha-La-La (Jackie Cameron), a portrait of a reclining floral dress-clad woman from 1975, is expected to fetch a price of $2 million–$3 million. If it reaches its high estimate, it will come close to the artist’s current record price of $3.7 million, set when his double-portrait Yocks from the same year sold at Sotheby’s in 2019. Yocks had an estimate of $900,000–$1.2 million.
Other highlights on offer at Sotheby’s include Helen Frankenthaler’s 13-foot painting Giant Step (1975), which was given an estimate of $1.2 million–$1.8 million, and Wayne Thiebaud’s Pop-style ice cream painting Single Triple Decker (2004), which is estimated at $1.5 million–$2 million. Other notable artists featured in the sale include Keith Haring, Matthew Wong, and Titus Kaphar. The pre-sale estimate total for the contemporary art day auction is $35.6 million– $50.7 million.
The present work has the highest estimate ever given to a Hendricks painting at auction. It follows the recent sale of another female portrait by the artist at the house: Latin from Manhattan…The Bronx Actually (1980), which sold for $1.5 million in Sotheby’s “Contemporary Curated” auction in October. That painting beat its estimate of $700,000–$1 million. Weeks before, Artnet News reported that the painter’s dealer New York’s Jack Shainman Gallery found a buyer for a work by the artist—the details of which have not been disclosed— for $14 million.
Jackie last sold at auction for $48,000 with buyer’s premium at Swann Auction Galleries in 2010 from the collection of New York’s Dr. and Mrs. Michael Stone, against an estimate of $40,000–$60,000. The present low estimate represents a 4,900 percent increase over the last one. The work was last exhibited in a Hendricks solo show at the Ulrich Museum of Art in Wichita, Kansas, in 1976.
Swann, whose African American Art department was founded in 2007, has in the past decade laid the foundation for its larger competitors to sell works by Black contemporary artists such as Hendricks at record-high prices. At the time of the 2010 sale, Hendricks’ secondary market had just been established. Swann sold the first large-scale figurative painting by the artist, Bid ’Em In/Slave (Angie), 1973, which has previously been owned by artist Charles Searles, in 2009. The buyer was the Sheldon Museum of Art at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, which purchased the work for $144,000, more than double the low estimate of $60,000.
“Before Barkley Hendricks‘s representation by Jack Shainman Gallery in 2013, while it may seem difficult to fathom today, the challenge actually was to expand the market,” said Nigel Freeman, vice president at Swann Auction Galleries.
From then on, Swann’s sales realized increasing prices for Hendricks’s figurative paintings, many of which featured in the artist’s 2008 Nasher Museum of Art survey. In 2011, Hendricks’ double female-portrait Twins made $108,000; in 2013, Hawks, Blah Blah Blah, a single portrait of a man against a yellow background, made $132,000; and in 2015, Steve, with the single subject posed against an all-white background in matching clothes, sold for $365,000, against an estimate of $120,000–$180,000. It wasn’t until November 2018, that a Hendricks work broke the seven-figure-price threshold, when his portrait of William Corbett from 1975 sold for $1.9 million at a Sotheby’s contemporary art evening auction.
The present work was made from a series of five paintings depicting the artist’s friends and students. A comparable to the work on offer is Sweet Thang (Lynne Jenkins), 1975–76, which resides at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.