Oct 18, 2012 - Sale 2290

Sale 2290 - Lot 53

Price Realized: $ 144,000
?Final Price Realized includes Buyer’s Premium added to Hammer Price
Estimate: $ 150,000 - $ 200,000
CHARLES WHITE (1918 - 1979)
Songs of Life.

Pen and brown and black ink, with gouache additions and ink wash, on illustration board, 1953-54. 737x1016 mm; 29x40 inches. Signed and dated in ink, lower right.

Provenance: the artist; ACA Gallery, New York; Mr. and Mrs. Leonard Cohen, Yonkers, New York (acquired 1954); private collection (acquired October 19, 1983).

Illustrated: Sidney Finkelstein, Charles White: Ein Künstler Amerikas, pl. 29.

Including--a letter from Herman Baron, ACA Gallery Director, dated Jaunuary 27, 1955, to Mr. Cohen requesting its loan back to the gallery so Charles White could submit it for a John Hay Whitney Fellowship application, and a copy of Finkelstein's Charles White: Ein Künstler Amerikas. Charles White was successful with his application and was awarded the Whitney Fellowship in 1955. We believe this drawing has not been exhibited since; it has been known by its illustration in Finkelstein that same year.

This exquisitely rendered drawing is a remarkable and very scarce example of Charles White's drawing in pen and ink--Songs of Life is one of several large pen and ink drawings from the early 1950s. While White had done a series of social realist pen and ink drawings in the late 1940s, including The Trenton Six and Frederick Douglas Lives Again, he primarily drew in charcoal and crayon through the early 1950s. This large drawing is related to another pen and ink drawing, Preacher, 1952, ink on board, in the collection of the Whitney Museum of American Art. Both display his mastery of foreshortening with a compressed figure, and an expression of spirituality. It also anticipates the large later pen and ink drawings Oh Mary, Don't You Weep, 1956, and Folk Singer, 1957. Songs of Life is a celebration of the inspirational power of song and hymn in the lives of African Americans. Gedeon D75.