Apr 02, 2015 - Sale 2378

Sale 2378 - Lot 60

Price Realized: $ 45,000
?Final Price Realized includes Buyer’s Premium added to Hammer Price
Estimate: $ 40,000 - $ 60,000
HUGHIE LEE-SMITH (1915 - 1999)
Figure by the Seashore II.

Oil on masonite board, 1957. 457x610 mm; 18x24 inches. Incised signature and date in oil, lower right recto. With a typed label with the title, on the verso.

Provenance: the artist; Marshall P. Blankarn, Nutley, NJ; private collection (1986).

Figure by the Seashore II is an excellent example of Hughie Lee-Smith's mid-career painting. It epitomizes his 1950s exploration of a modern, existential landscape inhabited by isolated figures. Lee-Smith displays his refined form of Surrealism with the enigmatic character of a woman in a red dress, who gazes out towards a distant shoreline. 1957 was an important year in both the development of the artist's oeuvre and his career. After winning the prestigious Emily Lowe award, Lee-Smith left Detroit for New York City where he signed on with Petite Gallery and later Janet Nassler Gallery.

This painting is a second version of his well known Woman by the Seashore, 1957, in the collection of Grant Hill, and illustrated in the collection's catalogue Something All Our Own: The Grant Hill Collection of African-American Art, see pp. 168-9. Indeed, it is a very close copy by the artist, with subtle differences in the shadows, foreground and color palette, and was likely commissioned at the same time. Other well known works from this year are in important museum collections: Stranger the National Museum of American Art, Washington, DC, Untitled (Rooftop View), the Cleveland Museum of Art and Desert Forms, the Art Institute of Chicago.