Untitled Norman Lewis painting sets new artist record

An untitled painting by Norman Lewis has realised $965,000 in a sale of African American art at Swann Auction Galleries.

It was the star lot of the December 15 sale in New York and sets a new record for Lewis' work at auction.

His previous high mark was $581,000, set for another untitled work at Swann in 2013.

Lewis was a contemporary of the New York abstract expressionists such as Mark Rothko and Jackson Pollock.

Norman Lewis Swann
This Norman Lewis work almost doubled his previous record

He began his career painting in a social realist style before moving on to more abstract territory.

Swann explains: "Norman Lewis's large Untitled, oil on canvas, circa 1958, is a recently re-discovered and important painting.

"A masterful mid-century composition that has never been publicly exhibited, it reveals yet another dimension to his late 1950s body of abstraction-a series of larger canvases that he painted after a trip to Europe and North Africa in 1957.

"In this painting, Lewis continues his investigation of the "ritual" calligraphic figures while moving further toward color field painting."

Barkley L Hendricks' Tuff Tony (1978) was another highlight, achieving $365,000.

The painting was produced as part of Hedricks' "white on white series", which juxtaposes white clad figures against white backgrounds.

It matches his current record, achieved by Steve (1976) - another work from the series.  

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