Apr 06, 2017 - Sale 2442

Sale 2442 - Lot 40

Price Realized: $ 57,500
?Final Price Realized includes Buyer’s Premium added to Hammer Price
Estimate: $ 60,000 - $ 90,000
HUGHIE LEE-SMITH (1915 - 1999)
Untitled (Cityscape).

Oil on masonite board, 1954. 457x610 mm; 18x24 inches. Incised signature and date in oil, lower right.

Provenance: the artist; Richard J. Bilatis (Professor of Art History, Wayne State University), Detroit, Michigan; Michael D. Hall and Pat Glascock, Hamtramck, Michigan, (1993); Robert Henry Adams Fine Art, Inc., Chicago, Illinois; private collection, Michigan, (2005); private collection, St. Louis, Missouri (2012).

Exhibited: Hughie Lee-Smith: Retrospective Exhibition, New Jersey State Museum, Trenton, November 5, 1988 - January 2, 1989, traveled to The Cultural Center, Chicago, February 4 - March 18, 1989 and The Studio Museum in Harlem, New York, 1989; Painters of the Great Lakes, Dennos Museum Center, Traverse City, Michigan, September 8 - November 14, 1996, traveled to the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts, Kalamazoo, Michigan, December 7, 1996 - February 9, 1997 and the Flint Institute of Arts, Flint, Michigan, March 31- May 11, 1997; African American Art by Modern Masters, Robert Henry Adams Fine Art, Inc., Chicago, Illinois, September 8 - October 28, 2005.

Illustrated: Peggy K. Lewis, Hughie Lee-Smith: Retrospective Exhibition, ill. p. 25, cat. no. 14; Robert Henry Adams Fine Art, Inc., African American Art by Modern Masters, ill. cat. no. 15.

Hughie Lee-Smith's Untitled (Cityscape) is a beautiful and significant painting from his Detroit period of the early to mid-1950s - an important body of work that has defined his career. The year earlier, Lee-Smith was awarded by the Detroit Institute of Arts its prestigious Founders Prize, a national painting award, for The Piper, 1953, now in their permanent collection. As in such works as Sunday Afternoon, 1953, and Along the Tracks, 1953, the artist depicts a young man exploring areas of desolation on the fringes of a city. Here Lee-Smith depicts his observations of an urban landscape with painterly confidence - a bold brushstroke depicts the natural patterns of a silvery overcast sky and dense piles of rocks with the Detroit skyline in the distance. This space is deftly defined with several of Lee-Smith's signature elements - upright posts and boards, a loose wire or cable and the central, lone figure.