Wednesday, October 1, 2008

African American Art Boosts Auction Sales

Christie’s evolving strategy of offering modestly priced postwar and contemporary art in specially marketed New York auctions is paying off. On June 30 the third installment of its biannual Open House sales netted $5,444,500, eclipsing the solid $3.7 million and $3.5 million achieved for roughly the same number of lots by the July 2007 and January 2008 editions, respectively.

Boosting the latest auction’s final tally were two collections of African-American art consigned by Washington, D.C., arts patron Peggy Cooper Cafritz and L.A. gallerist Alitash Kebede. The cover lot, Jacob Lawrence’s 1967 gouache Flight #1 (Walking in the Rain), sold just above its $150,000 high estimate, and examples by Betty Saar, Carrie Mae Weems and Glenn Ligon—whose flashe-paint and silkscreen Malcolm X (Small Version I) #2 (est. $20–30,000) brought $80,500— also performed well. But leading the pack were two 1960 untitled canvases by the Turkish abstractionist Orhon Mubin. Estimated at $10,000 to $15,000 each, they fetched $374,000—an auction record for the artist—and $200,500, from two European buyers. Records were also set for the American Abstract Expressionists Edward Dugmore, whose 1957 Blue-Black (est. $10–15,000) brought $116,500, and Beauford Delaney, whose Untitled, 1961 (est. $30–50,000), pictured, made $104,500, both going to U.S. dealers.

"House Proud" originally appeared in the October 2008 issue of Art+Auction. For a complete list of articles from this issue available on ARTINFO, see Art+Auction's October 2008 Table of Contents.

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