Elizabeth Catlett's Singing Head makes $125,000 at Swann New York

Elizabeth Catlett's Singing Head (1977) led a sale of African American art at Swann Auction Galleries in New York on October 9, achieving $125,000.

The piece was executed while the artist was teaching at the National Autonomous University of Mexico in Mexico City.

Catlett Singing Head
Elizabeth Catlett's Singing Head displays her African and Mexican influences

Catlett was a central figure in the later years of the Harlem Renaissance and is best known for her public sculptures of black cultural heroes, including Louis Armstrong and the writer Ralph Ellison.  

Her auction record stands at $288,000 for Homage to My Young Black Sisters, which sold at Swann in 2009.

An untitled work by Beauford Delaney also sold well, beating an estimate of $30,000 by 150% to take $75,000.

There has been a significant expansion in the market for African American artists in recent years as a revised view of art history brings forgotten figures to the fore.

Nigel Freeman of Swann commented in a recent interview with Culture Type (a site focused on black contemporary art): "Many artist values have changed overnight, often by huge margins. "We have really benefited from the changing view of American art. American art collecting has gotten a lot broader.

"Museums have been much more active in acquiring works by African American artists trying to make collections of American art more inclusive."

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