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Robinson’s Diverse Art Chronicles African-American Culture

On Feb. 24, the first day of ACA Galleries’ exhibition of works by Aminah Brenda Lynn Robinson (b. 1940), 14 pieces found buyers, director Jeffrey Bergen told ARTnewsletter. The show, which runs through April 15, features 49 works; 17 have been sold to date, while another 3 have been put on hold.

NEW YORK—On Feb. 24, the first day of ACA Galleries’ exhibition of works by Aminah Brenda Lynn Robinson (b. 1940), 14 pieces found buyers, director Jeffrey Bergen told ARTnewsletter. The show, which runs through April 15, features 49 works; 17 have been sold to date, while another 3 have been put on hold.

Works by the African-American artist are priced from $5,000 for small works on paper to $20,000/65,000 for larger ones on textiles and sculptural pieces. Buyers have been mostly collectors of mainstream contemporary art rather than folk art, says Bergen.

The show marked the first display of Robinson’s work at ACA and her first in New York. Timothy Keny, owner of Keny Galleries in Columbus, Ohio, where the artist was born and currently resides, told ARTnewsletter that the highest prices in an exhibition he’d held of Robinson’s work in 2003 ranged from $7,000/9,000, “with other, private transactions going a little north of $10,000.”

Until recently Robinson’s reputation was confined to Ohio and, especially, Columbus, where several galleries have staged exhibitions of her work. In 2004 she received a $500,000 MacArthur Foundation prize—the so-called “genius award.” That same year she had an exhibition of 46 pieces at the Museum of Fine Arts in Santiago, Chile. A display, “Symphonic Poem: The Art of Aminah Brenda Lynn Robinson,” is currently featured at the Brooklyn Museum (through Aug. 13).

Robinson’s work consists of drawings, paintings and mixed-media sculptures (made from natural and synthetic materials, such as twigs, carved leather and music boxes). She uses the term “hogmawg” to describe the mixture of mud, pig grease, dyes, glue and lime that holds her pieces together. The artist focuses mainly on the people and cultures of her native Poindexter Village, a longtime African-American community within the city of Columbus; and of Africa and Israel, where she has traveled extensively.

Robinson, who began painting at age 3, retains much of the art she has created throughout her life. Estimates of her entire body of work run as high as 20,000 pieces. Secondary market activity has been limited, with no pieces as yet brought to auction, although some resales have topped $10,000, gallerist Keny reports.

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