African American Art Market

Artnet just posted an article on growing interest and popularity of African American art.  The article notes that Chicago based Leslie Hindman Auctioneers will now hold to African American specialty sales per year.  The article notes that Swann in NYC has been holding African American art specialty sales since 2007, although Swann and now Hindman are the only two houses with dedicated sales in the sector.  Both Sotehby's and Christie's have had some excellent sales results, but have done so without a specialty sale in the sector.

From the interest being given by the auction houses, African American art is certainly a growing sector.

Artnet reports
Leslie Hindman’s Chicago outfit now joins Swann Galleries, which is based in Manhattan, as the only two auction houses in the country that hold sales dedicated to African-American art. Art by African-American artists is a rather wide category, but it is also one that shows a lot of upside potential.

Swann launched its twice-yearly African-American art sales in early 2007. “It was an idea whose time had come,” said Nigel Freeman, director of Swann’s African-American Art department. “Previously, we had integrated African-American art into the Works on Paper department, but it was in a 2006 sale that an untitled Romare Bearden collage from ca. 1964 broke the $100,000 barrier -- the highest price for one of those works at the time.”

Freeman claims that despite the obvious interest in African-American art, the area was “uncharted territory. No one had seen many prices for this work at auction,” he went on. However, creating an entire African-American department and arranging sales of work by artists that had never before appeared at auction helped to increase their prominence, and thereby to generate interest and raise prices.

Aiding that rise in stature were purchases by museums, such as the Museum of Modern Art’s $18,000 purchase in 2010 of Norman Lewis’ 1949 City Night, an abstract oil on wood that was included in MoMA’s 2011 exhibition “Abstract Expressionist New York.” In a 2008 sale at Swann’s, the Boston Museum of Fine Arts acquired three African-American works, including Hughie Lee-Smith’s The Juggler #1, ca. 1964, for which it paid $312,000 -- the highest public sale price for an abstract work of art by any African-American artist.
Source: Artnet 

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