Oct 09, 2014 - Sale 2359

Sale 2359 - Lot 140

Price Realized: $ 125,000
?Final Price Realized includes Buyer’s Premium added to Hammer Price
Estimate: $ 120,000 - $ 180,000
Singing Head.

Carved tropical wood, with painted details, circa 1977. Approximately 419x203x190 mm; 16 1/4x8x7 1/2 inches. Initialed "EC" at the lower edge.

Provenance: acquired directly from the artist; private California collection. The owner met Elizabeth Catlett in Mexico City in 1975, and commissioned this work from the artist shortly thereafter. The next year the artist moved to Cuernavaca.

This large, modern head is an exquisite example of Elizabeth Catlett's mid-career sculpture in carved wood. The singing head or cabeza cantando is an important theme to Catlett, and indicates the influence of both Mexican and African-American traditons in her work. Singing Head is an emodiment of self-expression and identity - it represents the many cultures and influences found in the artist's work.

Several of Catlett's sculptures have an open, expressive or singing mouth. She made an earlier version in bronze and marble in 1968 of a Mexican woman. There are also earlier wood versions with painted details, The Black Woman Speaks, 1970, in the collection of David C. Drisklell, and her "more abstract, Africanized Singing Head in mahogany in 1975", as described by Melanie Herzog. Catlett made other smaller versions of this type of head in both orange onyx, 1979, in the collection of the James E. Lewis Museum of Art, Morgan State University, and black marble, 1980, in the collection of the National Museum of American Art, Washington, DC. In addition, Catlett made a much smaller version in cast bronze (see lot 139). Herzog p. 154.