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Estimate: $ 120,000 - $ 180,000
JOHN BIGGERS (1924 - 2001) Women, Ghana.
Oil on mastonite board, circa 1960. 826x1016 mm; 32x40 inches. Signed in oil, lower left.
Provenance: the artist; private collection, Houston; private collection, Texas; thence by descent, private collection; acquired at Bonhams, New York, December 4, 2013; private collection, Texas.
Women, Ghana is an important and beautiful painting by John Biggers from an early body of work representing the importance of the African woman in her society. Here Biggers captures a group of women waiting with their baskets by a road - perhaps ready to bring goods to market. Biggers had said that "Africa has a female sensibility", and "the woman was so powerful in African culture." Here with a limited palette of earth tones and whites, Biggers deftly highlights the rich variety of patterns and textures found in their garments and blankets.
In 1957, Biggers was one of the first African-American artists to visit Africa, sponsored by a UNESCO fellowship to study and record traditional African culture. In addition to Ghana, John and his wife Hazel visited Togo, the Republic of Benin and Nigeria over a six month period. Ghana had only just achieved its independence from Britain in March of that year.
Upon his return, between 1959 and 1963, Biggers created the monumental, mural-sized painting, Jubilee: Ghana Harvest Festival, now in the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston and a group of these large paintings depicting Ghanian women. In addition to Women, Ghana, Biggers painted Market Women, Ghana, ex-collection Golden State Mutual Life Insurance Company, sold at Swann Auction Galleries, on October 4, 2007, Kumasi Market, ex-collection Dr. Maya Angelou, sold at Swann Auction Galleries on September 15, 2015 and Laundry Women (Washerwomen in Volta Region), Diggs Gallery, Winston-Salem University. Biggers also illustrated eighty-three of his drawings from this African period in his book Ananse: The Web of Life in Africa published in 1962. Wardlaw p. 86 and 165; Lewis p. 140.