Auctions | June 26, 2014

Auction Records Set at Swann Galleries Auction of African-American Fine Art


New York—Swann Galleries’ June 10 auction of African American Fine Art focused on the politically charged and artistically fertile period of the 1960s and 70s, and was titled The Shape of Things to Come. Results were strong for works of art by artists who defined the era.

In fact, several new auction records were set. A major work by assemblage artist Noah Purifoy had never appeared at auction before, so when his Untitled (Standing Figure), assemblage construction from 1968-70 sold for $62,500* it established a benchmark for the artist.

An excellent example of the celebrated abstract work of William T. Williams exceeded all prior auction results for the artist (also set at Swann), when Truckin, acrylic on canvas, 1969, achieved $137,000.

Also breaking six figures was Barkley L. Hendricks’s colorful and hip portrait of Sergio, oil and acrylic on canvas, 1972, at $106,250. Days before the sale, Hendricks joined Swann Galleries’ Director of African-American Fine Art, Nigel Freeman, for a talk about his career.

Walter Williams, known for his Southern landscapes filled with children, flowers, moths, blackbirds and butterflies, hit a new auction record of $93,750 for an oil and collage on board considered his most important painting.

A late career work by Elizabeth Catlett, a large Reclined Figure, black marble mounted to a wood base from 2005 sold for $93,750.

Additional three-dimensional highlights included Sam Gilliam’s Looking at the Moon, raked polypropylene, acrylic, monoprint and color woodblock on an assemblage of collaged handmade paper and sewn found fabric, 1991, $45,000 and Betye Saar’s Untitled (Clock with Charms), mixed-media assemblage, with a clock, circa 1975, $20,000.

A number of prints and multiples set new auction records, such as Romare Bearden’s Ritual Bayou, set of six editioned collages mounted on plywood, 1971, $50,000; Charles White’s Wanted Poster Series #11 (positive and negative images), two lithographs, 1970, $15,000 and Kara Walker’s no world, etching with aquatint, sugar-lift, spit-bite and drypoint, 2010, $13,750.


Two oils on canvas by Hughie Lee-Smith sold for $37,500 each: Rooftops, 1961 and Man in Brown Suit, circa 1983; while an Untitled oil and ink on paper by Norman Lewis from 1954, brought $30,000; Löis Mailou Jones’s Monday at Menemsha, oil on canvas, 1943, $25,000 and Hale Woodruff’s Untitled (Green Landscape), oil on canvas, circa 1969-70, $23,750.

For complete results, an illustrated auction catalogue (with prices realized on request) is available for $35 from Swann Galleries, Inc., 104 East 25th Street, New York, NY 10010, or online at

For further information, or to consign items to upcoming auctions of African-American Fine Art, please contact Nigel Freeman at 212-254-4710, extension 33, or via email at

*Prices include buyer’s premium.

First image: Noah Purifoy, Untitled (Standing Figure), assemblage construction, 1968-70. The first major work by the artist ever to appear at auction sold for $62,500 (including buyer's premium).

Second image: William T. Williams, Truckin, acrylic on canvas, 1969. Sold for a record $137,000 (including buyer's premium).