The results of Swann Galleries’ Oct. 7 African-American Fine Art Sale greatly exceeded lot estimates and sale expectations. In light of an uncertain economy that has many Americans on a spending freeze, the auction market is one of the few industries currently going strong.
The sale also exemplifies how works of African-American abstract expressionist artists, traditionally segregated from mainstream abstract expressionists, are being reevaluated and gaining stature within the art community. An increasing number of new collectors are viewing African-American art as less of a niche category and more of a must-have, mainstream collectible.
“Collectors today have the opportunity to find scarce works at auction that have been in private hands for a generation or more,” said Nigel Freeman, Swann Galleries’ African-American Fine Arts Specialist. “There is also a broader group of affluent, new collectors of the genre.
“We had an unprecedented level of participation from institutions, with seven of the top 11 lots going to museums, including The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Freeman said. “Important paintings and works on paper by significant artists such as Charles Alston, Hughie Lee-Smith, Norman Lewis, Al Loving, Charles White and Hale Woodruff posted exceptionally strong results, many above the estimate and at record prices.”
One painting sold for five times its high estimate (Untitled by Alvin D. Loving, Jr., circa 1967-69. Estimate: $20,000–$30,000. Sold for $156,000). Another sold for more than double the low estimate (Untitled by Norman Lewis, circa 1960-64. Estimate: $150,000–$200,000. Sold for $312,000).
For more information, visit www.swanngalleries.com.