Oct 09, 2014 - Sale 2359

Sale 2359 - Lot 91

Price Realized: $ 75,000
?Final Price Realized includes Buyer’s Premium added to Hammer Price
Estimate: $ 60,000 - $ 90,000
HUGHIE LEE-SMITH (1915 - 1999)

Oil on masonite board, 1955. 457x610 mm; 18x24 inches. Incised signature and date in oil, upper right.

Provenance: private collection, Detroit: private collection, Chicago.

This untitled painting by Hughie Lee-Smith is an excellent example of the artist's career-defining body of work from Detroit in the 1950s. Two years earlier, Lee-Smith was awarded by the Detroit Institute of Arts its prestigious Founders Prize, a national painting award, for his painting The Piper, now in their permanent collection.

Painting with confidence and a command of the medium, Lee-Smith displays his mature style of the mid- to late 1950s that had evolved from his social realism of the earlier decade. He explores the space between a young African-American man in the foreground and the two figures fishing at a lake's edge. As in many other paintings of the period, Lee-Smith uses an enigmatic young male as a stand-in for himself--here he is playing "cat's cradle" while turning away from the scene. Lee-Smih constructs the setting with many familiar landscape elements that he will use in the years and decades to come. These include the rock strewn foreground space, a concrete pier, a distant shore line at the horizon and a beautiful sky of cumulus clouds.