To gain perspective, I compared Swann’s Feb 2008 catalogue for their African-American sale to the upcoming sale.
· Fewer lots in 2009 (169 versus 263)
· Fewer examples by Bearden, Catlett, Charles White in 2009
· One more Tanner oil in 2009, than in the earlier sale
· Two Kara Walkers in 2009 versus none in 2008
· 2009 has a major Pindell painting versus a print in 2008
· $300,000 highest estimate in 2008 sale, $250,000 is highest 2009 sale estimate
· $600,000 highest price realized in 2008 sale, not by item with highest estimate
The fact that over 1/3 of the lots in 2009 sale are original prints, which can mean a lower price point is possibly due to this material having been assembled about the time of public awareness of economic crumbling (September 2008).
This painting by Hale Woodruff was chosen for the blog because it is masterful. Celestial Gate also stands as a demonstration of confidence in Hale Woodruff’s market. In the 2008 Swann sale, Celestial Gate sold for $91,875 against an estimate of $40,000 – $60,000. The estimate range for the same painting has jumped to $60,000 – $90,000. Normally estimates are intended to represent a conservative position. Had someone bought the painting in 2008 and lost confidence in Woodruff’s prominence in the art market, its new estimate might have decreased or stayed the same. An increased estimate is a clue about the current market’s perception of the value of an artist’s work.
Michael Rosenfeld of the Michael Rosenfeld Gallery on 57th Street in New York City currently is offering drawings by Charles White, the artist whose compelling drawing is first shown on this blog. Rosenfeld has worked with many of the blue chip African American artists for many years: Bearden, Biggers, Catlett, Tanner, White and Woodruff.
Never hesitate to consult with a knowledgeable dealer !
In the back of each of Swann’s auction catalogues are bibliographic citations for these artists. Biographical pearls have been inserted following the description of many of Swann’s offerings.
Bidding without inspecting the art in person? Call for a condition report in writing BEFORE deciding how much you will spend on an artwork.
Corinne Cain of www.SavvyCollector.com