African American Art Powerglides to New Sales Records

  • Swann Galleries introduced sales dedicated to black art in 2007
  • 2018 overall sales from the auction was more than $4.5 million

The thirst for black art is on the rise and Swann Galleries is the most recent beneficiary. At least 12 artists achieved new benchmarks when the gallery held its biannual African American Fine Art sale. Does the success of these art sales finally bring attention to the importance of black art contributions to an auction house’s bottom line?

Why This Matters: Swann Galleries introduced sales dedicated to black art back in 2007. They have increased the number of works by these artists since interest in African American art attracts a wider base of U.S. and international collectors. Also, a lot of black art purchasers are institutions pining to address deficits and widen their representation in the space.

The overall sales total from the auction was more than $4.5 million. This was a Swann record not just for sales in its African American Fine Art department, but for the entire auction house over the course of its more than 75-year history. A rare early painting by Elizabeth Catlett, “Head of a Woman (Woman),” sold for $209,000. “Tension on the High Seas” by Jacob Lawrence was among the most anticipated lots featured in the auction. The long lost panel sold for $413,000, four times the anticipated price.

Situational Awareness: The new benchmark achieved by Swann Galleries is a remarkable feat and signals the strength of the market for works by modern and contemporary African American artists. At this point it seems as though black art still remains largely undervalued after generations of under-recognition. Hopefully these strong sales will keep the momentum going around black art.

CBx Vibe:Powerglide” Rae Sremmurd