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NEW YORK — African American art from Harlem to Hollywood brought more than $4 million in a recent record-setting sale at Swann Auction Galleries.

“We are beyond thrilled with the results of the auction, which was a historic sale for Swann Galleries: our first auction to hammer over $4 million,” said Nigel Freeman, director of African American Art at Swann Galleries. The sale totaled over $5 million, including buyers' premium.

“Great excitement about our sale offerings resulted in auction record prices for eleven artists, including Belkis Ayón, Elizabeth Catlett and Howardena Pindell, and significant prices for many others, including Edward Bannister, Richmond Barthé and Hale Woodruff,” Freeman said.

Hale Woodruff, Carnival, oil on canvas, circa 1958, was the top lot, selling for $665,000, which was also a record for an abstract work by the artist.

Hale Woodruff, Carnival, oil on canvas, circa 1958, was the top lot, selling for $665,000, which was also a record for an abstract work by the artist.

Leading the auction was Hale Woodruff’s Carnival, oil on canvas, 1958, which sold for $665,000, the highest price achieved for an abstract work by the artist. Additional abstract works of note included Norman Lewis’ Past Time, oil on canvas, 1950-51, which brought $233,000, and a 1970s work on paper by Lewis in hues of deep blue and black, which sold for $161,000.

Sculpture also proved to be popular among collectors with a rare limestone work by Elizabeth Catlett —”Head,” 1943 — establishing a new record for the artist at $485,000 (the previous record was established by Swann in 2019 at $389,000). Simone Leigh was on offer with “Untitled (Vessel),” glazed terra cotta stoneware, circa 2004, sold for $149,000, and a 2011-12 glazed terra cotta cowrie shell for $106,250. Richmond Barthé’s scarce female figure, “Black Majesty,” bronze with a brown patina, 1969, also found success, selling for $106,250.

Elizabeth Catlett, “Head,” carved limestone, 1943; sold for $485,00, a record for Catlett.

Elizabeth Catlett, “Head,” carved limestone, 1943; sold for $485,00, a record for Catlett.

The sale also offered 24 lots to benefit the Brandywine Workshop in Philadelphia, 20 of which found buyers, totaling $196,000. Most notable of the works offered were collographs by Belkis Ayón — Temores Infundados, 1997, earned a record for the artist at $75,000, while KKK Boutique II, a 1996 etching by Camille Billops, also brought a record for the artist at $9,375.

Belkis Ayón, Temores Infundados, collograph on paper, 1997; sold for $75,000, a record for the artist.

Belkis Ayón, Temores Infundados, collograph on paper, 1997; sold for $75,000, a record for the artist.

Rounding out the top lots were assemblage artist Howardena Pindell and Noah Purifoy, with Pindell’s Untitled #57, 1974-75, an excellent example of her punched paper works, earning a record for the artist at $137,000. Figurative works by Hughie Lee-Smith, Ernie Barnes, Bob Thompson, as well as exceptional works in photography by Lorna Simpson and Lyle Ashton Harris, also proved to be successful with collectors.

For more results, visit swanngalleries.com.

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