Top Selling Photographs at Swann African-American Art Auction, April 6, 2017

The top selling photographs at Swann’s recent auction of African-American Art included James Van Der Zee’s Eighteen Photographs, and Carrie Mae Weems’ Chocolate Colored Man.

In Chocolate Colored Man, a three-toned gelatin silver print triptych produced in 1989-90, one views three profiles of a man labeled individually by three different terms: Chocolate Colored Man.  The 16 x 18 inches framed work was produced in an edition of three (3), and is part of the Colored People series.  The work sold for 68, 750 USD (with buyer’s premium),  and had an auction estimate of 35,000-50,000 USD.

The April 6th sale at Swann’s was the fourth time that James Van Der Zee’s Eighteen Photographs were sold at the auction house.  The portfolio was produced in an edition of 75.  It contains eighteen (18) mounted silver and sepia-toned silver prints produced between 1905 and 1938.  As written in the online catalogue about the 32/75 edition:

A handsome portfolio, published by Harry Lunn, Jr., with iconic images from VanDerZee’s photographic career. It includes various subjects of the Harlem Renaissance, as well as studies of Marcus Garvey, Daddy Grace, and formal family portraits.

In this sale, the portfolio sold for 87,500 USD (with buyer’s premium), and had an auction estimate of 40,000-60,000 USD.  On October 15, 2007, edition 36/75 of the portfolio was unsold at Swann’s 19th and 20th Century Photographs and Photobooks auction, with an estimate of 10,000-15,000 USD.   A few months later it sold for 26,400 USD in the February 19, 2008 sale of African-American Art.  The auction estimate was 15,000-20,000 USD.  Later that year, edition 8/75 sold for 40,800 USD, with auction estimate of 15,000-20,000 USD.

VanDerZee Weems