African American Art Market

I posted about a week ago on the new African American art sale a Leslie Hindman Auctions, initial reports reveal the sale totaled about $210,000.00, which I think is excellent for a first time sale.

The Huffington Post just published a good article on the African American Art market, its strengths and weaknesses.  The article points to the value and growing interest in this market sector, plus with many prices for emerging artists still at reasonable levels, with many below the minimum threshold to attract the major houses such as Sotheby's and Christie's.

The Huffington Post reports

If the auction world is discovering the appeal of African-American art, a number of art galleries already had the news. "We've seen a consistent rise in prices and growing interest," said Michael Rosenfeld, a Manhattan gallery owner who began a series of African American art exhibits back in 1993, although he is more apt to mix the work of white and African American artists, based on thematic interests, in his more recent exhibits.

The gallery is currently (through April 7) exhibiting figurative paintings by three artists, Benny Andrews and Bob Thompson (who are African American) and Alice Neel.

He noted that there is "a finite number of great works" in the African American field, but for these pieces there has been a "consistent rise in prices." He claimed that the gallery has sold sculptural work by Elizabeth Catlett (b. 1915) for more than $300,000, and for sales of paintings by Charles White (1918-79) "$200,000-300,000 is commonplace." Last year, the gallery sold a tempera on wood design, part of a 26-foot mural titled "Web of Life" by John Biggers (1924-2001), to the Brooklyn Museum for over $200,000. Many of the highest prices for works in this category are from museums, which are "playing catch-up."

The largest auction houses have not wholly ignored the field of African American art ("We present African American artists across our various sales categories, including Post-War, Contemporary, Photography, Decorative Arts, etc.," a spokesman for Christie's stated), but Peter Rathbone, former co-director and now a consultant of American Paintings at Sotheby's, claimed that most of the lots in the Leslie Hindman auction are too inexpensive even for Sotheby's arcade sale, where the minimum estimate is no less than $5,000: "It's a question of economics. We wouldn't recover enough to make a profit on the sale."

 Source: The Huffington Post

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