Apr 06 at 12:00 PM - Sale 2632 -

Sale 2632 - Lot 90

Estimate: $ 250,000 - $ 350,000
ERNIE BARNES (1938 - 2009)

Acrylic on cotton canvas, 1973. 1219x914 mm; 48x36 inches. Signed in arcylic, lower right recto. Titled in pencil on the stretcher bars, and stamped with the artist's copyright statement, verso.

Provenance: acquired directly from the artist; private collection, North Carolina.

Exhibited: the travelling solo exhibition The Beauty of the Ghetto, the Museum of African Art, Washington, DC, September 1974.

This large canvas is an impressive example of Ernie Barnes' uniquely expressive painting. His depiction of a powerful, playful and protective figure is a moving depiction of African American fatherhood. It also can be seen as an homage to his close relationship with his father, whom he also referred to as "Daddy". Barnes often framed his early paintings with the distressed wood from a weathered picket fence in honor of his late father, and many of his painting scenes were inspired by fond memories of his childhood growing up in Durham, NC.

Daddy is related to Barnes's 1970 painting My Miss America in the collection of the California African American Museum. Both canvases depict a towering, heroic figure against a fiery background of orange and burnt umber in the same sized format. The muscular figure of Daddy also recalls the figurative artwork of Charles White - one of Ernie Barnes's inspirations as a young artist working in California. The year before, Barnes had moved to the Fairfax district of Los Angeles. Daddy wonderfully encapsulates Barnes' art and his larger-than-life depictions of everyday people.

Daddy was part of one of Barnes's most influential exhibitions, The Beauty of the Ghetto. This solo exhibition, which began at the Heritage Gallery in Los Angeles in 1972, travelled nationally for the next seven years. Influenced by the Black Arts cultural movement, Barnes' paintings presented Black popular culture as a rich subject, broadening the representation of the Black experience in art; he said, "I am providing a pictorial background for an understanding into the aesthetics of Black America. It is not a plea to people to continue to live there (in the ghetto) but for those who feel trapped, it is…a challenge of how beautiful life can be." Daddy was included in the exhibition in 1974 when it was on view at the Museum of African Art in Washington, DC, and was hosted by US Representative John Conyers of Michigan.

This painting will be included in the forthcoming catalogue raisonné prepared by the Ernie Barnes estate. We would like to thank Luz Rodriguez at the Ernie Barnes estate for her assistance in cataloguing this work.