Charles White Drawing Tops Swann African American Art Sale, 12 Artists Achieve Auction Records


 

DAYS BEFORE THE OPENING of “Charles White: A Retrospective” at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York on Oct. 7, a dramatic drawing by the pivotal, 20th-century figure topped the latest African-American Fine Art sale at Swann Auction Galleries. “Nobody Knows My Name #1” sold for $485,000 (including fees). Charles White (1918-1979) made the work in 1965, when he was living and working in Los Angeles. That same year, Malcolm X was assassinated, the Voting Rights Act was passed, and days later the Watts Rebellion broke out.

The lot description provided by Swann notes the symbolism of the work and its connection to the fraught period: “While the swirling blackness of the charcoal almost makes the drawing abstract, its symbolism has a strong message. The darkness…

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