THREE TABLES FROM THE 1970s by Ernie Barnes (1938-2009) sold for over $ 100,000 each on October 1, marking the first time that a work by Barnes has sold for more than six figures at auction. Two of the paintings sold for almost $ 300,000 each. The results were more than three times the artist’s previous record and set a new benchmark for Barnes. The paintings were featured in Christie’s Post-War to Present sale in New York.
“The Disco” (1976), a crowded club scene with black and white patrons partying on the dance floor and hanging out around cocktail tables, appears on the cover of the soul vocal group’s 1978 self-titled album. / R & B Faith, Hope and Charity. Estimated at $ 70,000 to $ 100,000, the original painting climbed to $ 287,000, setting a new auction record for Barnes.
Lot 37: ERNIE BARNES (1938-2009), “The Disco”, 1978 (acrylic on canvas, 29 7/8 x 39 3/4 inches / 75.9 x 101 cm). | Estimate $ 70,000 to $ 100,000. Sold for $ 287,500 including fees. SAVE
His previous record didn’t last long. It took place in September at the Dallas Auction Gallery (DAG), where five paintings by Barnes were sold. “Untitled (Pool Hall)” reached $ 81,250, setting a new record for the artist (surpassing his previous record of $ 75,000 set in May at Hindman in Chicago).
Based in Los Angeles for most of his artistic career, Barnes was an NFL football player who retired from the sport and devoted himself full time to his artistic practice. His subjects were often athletes. It refers to music and pays homage to black women. He also preferred to portray the everyday of African American life, scenes and characters such as “The Pulpiteer” which reflected his memories of the South, where he grew up in Durham, North Carolina.
Barnes’ “The Pulpiteer” (1972), a vivid portrait of a preacher with outstretched arms making an exaggerated gesture towards the sky, sold for $ 275,000 at Christie’s. Depicting five basketball players who appear to be anxious about a game, “Five in Red” (1970) sold for $ 150,000.
The trio of paintings by Barnes, as well as “Black Man” (1965), a drawing by Charles Blanc (1918-1979) which sold for nearly $ 600,000, come from the collection of Danny and Donna Arnold (1936-2021). Emmy Award-winning writer / producer Danny Arnold (1925-1995) is best known for creating the television shows “Bewitched” and “Barney Miller” and producing “That Girl”. Donna Arnold died in March. She was an actress who made her debut as a child star in “Our Gang” / “The Little Rascals”. The Hollywood couple knew both White and Barnes and acquired the works directly from the artists.
Lot 40: ERNIE BARNES (1938-2009), “The Pulpiteer”, 1972 (oil on canvas, 29 7/8 x 40 inches / 75.9 x 101.6 cm). | Estimate $ 60,000 to $ 80,000. Sold for $ 275,000 including fees
THE PRESENT POST-WAR SALE consisted of 175 lots. The auction totaled $ 34,409,820, which Christie’s said was the highest result she has recorded for a post-war sale to date. In another first, the auction house accepted bids in Ether cryptocurrency for many Curiosity and NFT cards.
Six new auction records were set by Barnes and Wonder Buhle Mbambo, among other artists. Mbambo is a rising South African artist. In “The Hearts” (2021), graphic patterns add dimension to limited palette work. The painting captures an aerial view of a trio of young people who formed a circle and put their hands in the center, one on top of the other, in a gesture of solidarity. The painting was produced, acquired directly from the artist and resold the same year.
“The Hearts” sold for $ 175,000, more than three times the estimate ($ 30,000 to $ 50,000) and a new record for Mbambo. The result is also nearly three times the artist’s previous record of $ 61,498 (£ 44,100), reached at the sale of “To Find Me” (2019) at Phillips London in April.
“The Bargaining” (1961) by Bob thompson (1937-1966) was the first lot of the sale. Opening the auction on a promising note, the painting far exceeded expectations selling for $ 212,500, more than four times the high estimate ($ 30,000 to $ 50,000). “Bob Thompson: This House Is Mine” is currently on display at the Colby College Museum of Art in Waterville, Maine. The Traveling Investigation is the first museum exhibit dedicated to Thompson’s brief but prolific career in more than 20 years.
Lot 1: BOB THOMPSON (1936-1966), “The Bargaining”, 1961 (oil on panel, 23 1/2 x 20 inches / 60 x 50.8 cm). | Estimate $ 30,000 to $ 50,000. Sold for $ 212,500 including fees
THERE WERE SEVERAL OTHER HIGHLIGHTS by black artists. Works by Julie Mehretu, Mickalene Thomas, and Sonia gomes greatly exceeded their estimates. A work of Titus Kapharthe series Jerome and “Glenn”, an abstract portrait of Rachid Johnson, were presented. Artists Nina Chanel Abney, Aboudia, Jonathan Lyndon Chase, Jammie Holmes, Jayson Musson, Chris Ofili, Walter Price, and Jack Whitten, were also represented in the sale.
The auction ended with “White Male for Sale” (2021), an NFT of Fear Scott, who says he does “revolutionary art to advance history”. In 2019, Scott staged a re-enactment of the slave rebellion in Louisiana that ended in New Orleans. “Dread Scott: We are going to end slavery. Join Us ”, her first gallery exhibition in two decades, is currently on display at the Cristin Tierny Gallery in New York City, through December 18.
The NFT is a 1 minute and 10 second video loop that shows a typical middle-aged, middle-class white man standing on an auction block. It sold for $ 32,500. Scott said the definition of an NFT (non-fungible token) inspired the provocative work.
“The term fungible sounded differently to me due to its use by scholars of the history of slavery,” the artist said. “People are inherently non-fungible. But as slavery became an integral part of the development of capitalism, slavers sought to make people fungible. ” CT
* PRICE INFO All prices sold include premium charges
LEARN MORE On October 6, Sotheby’s presented the fall edition of Two Centuries: American Art, an online auction. Although “Scrum” (1980), a rugby football scene by Ernie Barnes, served as a promotional image for sale, the painting was not sold. “Dancer,” a second batch from Barnes, was retired.
LEARN MORE New US Artist Resale Rights Contract Has a Charitable Twist, from The Art Newspaper
Lot 10: WONDER BUHLE MBAMBO (B. 1989), “The Hearts”, 2021 (acrylic on canvas, 46 1/8 x 58 1/8 inches / 117.2 x 147.32 cm). | Estimate $ 30,000 to $ 50,000. Sold for $ 175,000 including fees. SAVE
Lot 38: ERNIE BARNES (1938-2009), “Five In Red”, 1970 (acrylic on canvas, 35 7/8 x 32 1/8 inches / 91.1 x 81.6 cm). | Estimate 50,000 to 70,000. Sold for $ 150,000 including fees
Lot 39: CHARLES WHITE (1918-1979), “Black Man”, 1965 (charcoal and pencil on drawing board, image: 19 x 34 inches / 48.3 x 86.4 cm; plate: 24 ¼ x 38 ½ inches / 61.6 x 97.8 cm). | Estimate $ 400,000 to $ 600,000. Sold for $ 587,500 including fees
Lot 6: JAMMIE HOLMES (B. 1984), “Colored Only”, 2018 (acrylic and pastel on canvas, 48 x 48 inches / 121.9 x 121.9 cm). | Estimate $ 60,000 to $ 80,000. Sold for $ 93,750 including fees
Lot 7: TITUS KAPHAR (B.1976), “Jérôme XVII”, 2014 (oil, gold leaf and tar on panel, 25.4 x 17.8 x 2.5 cm). | Estimate $ 40,000 to $ 60,000. Sold for $ 56,250 including fees
Lot 32: SONIA GOMES (B. 1948), Untitled, from the Patuá series, 2004 (fabric and laces with stitching and thread binding, 19 ½ x 24 ¾ x 9 1/2 inches / 49.5 x 62.9 x 24.1 cm). | Estimate $ 15,000 to $ 20,000. Sold for $ 75,000 including fees
Lot 50: MICKALENE THOMAS (B. 1971), “Portrait of Aaliyah”, 2018 (rhinestones, oil stick, acrylic and oil paint on wood panel, 122.2 x 152.4 x 5, 1 cm.). | Estimate $ 200,000 to $ 300,000. Sold for $ 625,000 including fees
Lot 73: RASHID JOHNSON (B. 1977), “Glenn”, 2013 (branded red oak flooring, black soap and wax / 84 ¾ x 60 1/2 inches / 215.3 x 153.7 cm.). | Estimate $ 100,000 to $ 150,000. Sold for $ 300,000 including fees
Lot 81: JULIE MEHRETU (B. 1970), Untitled, 2006 (graphite, watercolor and ink on paper, 66 x 101.6 cm). | Estimate $ 120,000 to $ 180,000. Sold for $ 362,500 including fees
Lot 191: JAYSON MUSSON (B. 1977), “Muscade”, 2012 (mercerized cotton stretched over linen, 243.8 x 188 cm). | Estimate $ 87,500. Sold $ 30,000- $ 50,000 including fees
“From Pads to Palette” (1995) is an autobiographical volume by Ernie Barnes. Along with his soccer sketches and paintings, the artist recounts his childhood in Durham, North Carolina, his experiences during his football career, and the start of his artistic career with his first solo exhibition at Grand Central Art. New York Galleries. A children’s book chronicling the artist’s life, “Between the Lines: How Ernie Barnes Went from the Football Field to the Art Gallery“, was published in 2018, with illustrations by Bryan Collier. Another children’s book, “Pigskins to Paintbrushes: The Story of Football-Playing Artist Ernie Barnes,” written and illustrated by Don Tate, was published a few months ago. Entitled “Mickalene Thomas”, the artist’s first full monograph will be released in November with contributions from Kellie Jones and Roxane Gay. “Julie Mehretu” accompanies the artist’s mid-career retrospective, which is currently on display at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, until March 6, 2022. “Charles White: A Retrospective” accompanied the recent traveling exhibition.
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