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Archive for the ‘African American’ Category

An important painting on paper by Norman Lewis

February 28th, 2017

Born in Harlem and working within New York City’s downtown art scene, Norman Wilfred Lewis (1909-1979) first began painting in a figural style grounded in social realism, focusing on bread lines, police brutality, and the struggles of black Americans. Lewis transitioned to a more abstract style of art during the 1940s and 1950s, continuing to focus on social inequalities but growing increasingly interested in personal expression rather than representation. Lewis’s shift to abstraction was driven in part by his realization that reproducing or mirroring social conditions did not adequately reflect his goals as an artist. At the same time the subjects of race and civil rights reclaimed Lewis’s work in a profound way in the 1960s.  Works like Untitled 1961 address political activism and humanitarian concerns through hazy visuals inspired by clandestine Ku Klux Klan gatherings and political marches and Labor Day parades.

The Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art organized Procession, a major retrospective of Lewis’s works in 2016, which traveled to the Amon Carter Museum and the Chicago Cultural Center.  Curator and author Ruth Fine received a 2017 award of distinction from the College Art Association for the Norman Lewis exhibition catalogue.

UNTITLED 1961, oil on paper, signed and dated in recto

UNTITLED 1961, oil on paper, 19 x 26″

New etchings by Stan Whitney

January 7th, 2017

We are pleased to offer an important new group of eight etchings by Stanley Whitney (born 1946, Philadelphia, PA).  Whitney is a 2016 USA Jeanne & Michael Klein Fellow.  His 2015 exhibition at the Studio Museum in Harlem brought a new level of critical and market notice.  This brand new series of large etchings show Whitney continuing his exploration of abstract motifs—the layering and stacking of grid and gesture, line and shape.  Whitney was a Guggenheim Fellow in 1996.

Stan Whitney 8 Untitled etchings 2016, edition 18

From top left, numbers 1-8
edition 18, each image 19 1/2 x 24 3/8″ each sheet 29 1/8 x 32 1/2″

 

Elizabeth Catlett (American, 1915-2012)

April 27th, 2015

We are proud to share here an important bronze, El Canto, 1968.  Catlett has taken cues from traditional West African sculpture while creating an iconic, Modern work.  Her works impress with the strength of her formal approach yet Catlett was more interested in the social power they convey: “I have always wanted my art to service my people — to reflect us, to relate to us, to stimulate us, to make us aware of our potential.”

The singer, or singing head is a theme Catlett returned to over the course of her long career.  Elizabeth Catlett ranks among America’s most respected sculptors.  A related work in marble is in the collection of the Smithsonian American Art Museum.

Elizabeth Catlett, El Canto 1968, bronze

El Canto 1968, bronze

 

John Wilson, 1922-2015

January 27th, 2015

Sculptor, painter and print maker John Wilson passed away on January 26.  Wilson made his life in Boston, graduating from graduating the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston with highest honors  in 1945 and received a bachelor’s degree in education from Tufts University in 1947.  With a traveling on fellowship from the School of the MFA, Boston, Wilson studied with Ferdinand Leger in Paris.  In 1950, a John Hay Whitney Fellowship took him to Mexico where he pursued his interest in  mural making.  His 1986 bronze bust of Martin Luther King stands in the Capitol Rotunda in Washington, DC.  The Boston Globe quotes his wife, Julie: “Essentially, he felt that his main objective as an artist was to deliver a message to people about black dignity, about racial justice, about poor people trying to get a better deal in life.”

We are honored to share 2 important lithographs, Dialogue, 1955 and Urbanites, 1964 by the excellent John Wilson

John Wilson Dialogue 1955, lithograph

Dialogue 1955, lithograph

John WIlson Urbanites 1964, lithograph

Urbanites 1964, lithograph

 

An important abstraction by Alma Thomas

January 15th, 2015

We are pleased to offer this important painting by Washington Color Field artist, Alma Thomas (1891-1978).  Thomas was born in Columbus Georgia and moved to Washington DC with her family n 1907.  In 1924 she became the first graduate of the Art Department at Howard University, and in 1935 received a Master of Arts in art Education from Columbia University.  Her work is held in the permanent collections of the Columbus Museum of Art, the Corcoran Gallery of Art, the Baltimore Museum of Art, the National Gallery of Art, the Howard University Gallery of Art, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, The Phillips Collection, the Smithsonian American Art Museum, the Hirshhorn Museum and the Whitney Museum of American art.  Our painting was made in 1972 and shimmers with carefully modulated color.  Please be in touch if you’d like to know more.

 

Alma Thomas Untitled 1972, acrylic on paper

Untitled 1972, acrylic on paper

A rare work by Raymond Steth

October 18th, 2014

Heaven on a Mule c . 1940 is one of Raymond Steth’s best loved works.  Steth depicts a deeply moving narrative of a devout African American farmer and his family.   This poignant image was taken from a folk tale showing a poor family standing on a hill wearing cloth wings in the hope of being taken to heaven.  They’ve brought their few possessions and have made wings for their mule and dog. Steth rewards them with ghost-like angels.  Steth’s work was rediscovered in the landmark 1993 exhibition and catalogue, Alone in a Crowd, which was organized by David and Reba Williams  to share their thoroughly researched collection of prints by African American artists.  The exhibition traveled throughout the USA and brought about new appreciation for an important group of artists who’d been largely forgotten.  We are very pleased to offer this excellent work by a master storyteller.

Raymond Steth, Heaven on a Mule c. 1940 lithograph

Heaven on a Mule

Norman Lewis in the 1950s

September 11th, 2014

We are pleased offer 2 important works on paper made in the late 1950s by Norman Lewis, (American, 1909-1979).   He studied at Columbia University and found work during the Great Depression with the WPA at Harlem Art Center.

Norman_Lewis-Abstration  c. 1957. watercolor & ink on paper

Norman_Lewis-Abstration c. 1957. watercolor & ink on paper

Norman Lewis Figures 1957 ink & oil on paper

Norman Lewis Figures 1957 ink & oil on paper

Lewis exhibited at the seminal Willard Gallery in New York City from 1946- 1964.  He was part the Studio 35 sessions–closed door meetings led by MOMA’s Alfred J Barr Jr, which helped define the Abstract Expressionist movement.  He exhibited with the Abstract American Artists group and was included in MOMA’s 1951 exhibition, “Abstract Painting and Sculpture in America”.

 

Early David Driskell watercolor

August 13th, 2014

We are pleased to share a very beautiful, early watercolor by renowned master painter, printmaker and curator, David Driskell Colorado Scape, 1960.  was made while Driskell was pursuing a MFA at Catholic University of America in Washington, DC.   The strong, clear colors and the abstracted landscape of this important work indicate Driskell’s early predisposition toward European modernism.  The paintings and prints of this era explore nature–trees in particular as a means of understanding abstract form.  With Colorado Scape Driskell creates a very satisfying overall intensity, fluid and aggressive line balanced by deeply saturated color.

David Driskell Colorado Scape 1960  watercolor

David Driskell
Colorado Scape 1960 watercolor

A rare bronze by Richmond Barthé (American, 1901-1989)

February 27th, 2014

Head of a Dancer is an elegant portrait of Czech-born dancer Harald Kreutzberg. Kreutzberg was active on the stage and German cinema. Kreutzberg befriended Richmond Barthé when he performed in the United States in the 1930s. Barthé was working in Harlem and the performing arts were a constant interest and theme in his work.  Barthé studied Martha Graham dance techniques to better understand movement and the human form. We have found other examples of Head of a Dancer in the public collections at the Driskell Center, University of Maryland, the Amistad Research Center at Tulane University, the Scad Museum of Art in Savanah, GA, and in two private collections. Ours is the only example with the rich, green patina visible here.

Richmond Barthé Head of a Dancer, bronze

Richmond Barthé Head of a Dancer, bronze

Important works by Beauford Delaney noted

September 19th, 2013

We were recently contacted by Paris-based blog, Les Amis de Beauford Delaney asking about our holdings of works by Delaney (1901-1979). We have two superb examples: a 1946 pastel from his New York period and a 1962 canvas from Delaney’s celebrated Yellow series which was made in Paris.
Beauford Delaney exhibited at Philadelphia’s Pyramid Club in 1947. There he met Dox Thrash, an active member of the club who served on the exhibtions committee. To read more of our Delaney’s, click on the link to Les Amis.

http://lesamisdebeauforddelaney.blogspot.com/2013/09/where-to-find-beaufords-art.html

Beauford Delaney, Untitled (grape motif), pastel

Beauford Delaney, Untitled (grape motif), pastel