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Catlett Sculpture Stars at Swann African American Art Sale

Homage to My Young Black Sisters, 1968, a life-size carved cedar sculpture by Elizabeth Catlett, was the top lot in Swann Gal­leries’ sixth semiannual sale of African American art on Oct. 8, bringing a sale price of $288,000, surpassing the estimate of $175,000/200,000.

NEW YORK—Homage to My Young Black Sisters, 1968, a life-size carved cedar sculpture by Elizabeth Catlett, was the top lot in Swann Gal­leries’ sixth semiannual sale of African American art on Oct. 8, bringing a sale price of $288,000, and surpassing the estimate of $175,000/200,000. The 5-foot-8-inch-tall artwork came from a private New York collection, and is one of only a handful of monumental works by the artist in private hands.

There were a number of strong results in the sale. Of the 116 lots, 93, or 80 percent, found buyers, yielding a total of $1.4 million, just under the overall estimate of $1.5million/2.1million, up from the total of the previous March sales, which brought in $641,520 (ANL, 3/3/09), and on par with the $1.4million total realized last October (ANL, 10/28/08).

Shotguns, 1987, an oil and acrylic painting by John Biggers, fetched $216,000, within the estimate of $200,000/250,000. Bid ’Em In/Slave (Angie), 1973, an oil and acrylic by Barkley Hendricks, reached $144,000 (estimate: $60,000/90,000), and a portfolio of 22 color screenprints by Jacob Lawrence, The Legend of John Brown, 1977, brought $84,000 (estimate: $90,000/120,000). Sinister Doings by Gaslight, 1952, an oil painting by Norman Lewis, sold for $78,000 (estimate: $75,000/100,000), and Augusta Savage’s Gamin, ca. 1929, a plaster sculpture with painted bronze patina, brought $40,800, at the bottom of the $40,000/60,000 estimate.

Along with the Catlett and the Hendricks works, the most notable lot to surpass the auction house’s estimates was Charles White’s tempera on cardstock Native Son, 1941, which sold for $38,400, more than doubling the $10,000/15,000 estimate. However, a number of the higher-estimated lots failed to sell, including three other works by White: John Brown, 1938, a charcoal drawing (estimate: $75,000/100,000); Love Is a Naked Shadow, 1966, a charcoal and crayon on board (estimate: $120,000/150,000); and Micah, 1964, a linoleum cut print from an edition of 35 (estimate: $30,000/50,000).

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