Feb 23, 2010 - Sale 2203

Sale 2203 - Lot 12

Price Realized: $ 52,800
?Final Price Realized includes Buyer’s Premium added to Hammer Price
Estimate: $ 30,000 - $ 50,000
Untitled (Standing Woman).

Terra cotta, painted pale tan, circa 1933-35. 360x100x95 mm; 14 1/4x4x3 1/2 inches.

Provenance: the artist, San Francisco; Arthur W. Hanna, San Francisco.

San Franciscan carpenter and cabinet-maker Arthur W. Hanna met Sargent Johnson shortly after Hanna's military service in 1945 when both men were early residents of the soon-to-be bohemian North Beach neighborhood. Sargent Johnson had set up his studio a few blocks down Grant Avenue from Hanna's workshop on Telegraph Hill; they met at the local hardware store and became friends. Hanna built bases and pedestals for Johnson's work. Hanna and his wife also received postcards from Johnson during his Mexican travels. Johnson gave them this sculpture from his studio in the early 1960s.

This terra cotta is an outstanding, early example of Sargent Johnson's sculpture in the early 1930s. This work is closely related to Standing Woman, 1934, 15 3/8 inches high, in the collection of the Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco, lent by the Federal Works Project of the WPA (see LeFalle-Collins/Wilson ill. 12, cat. no. 11.) The Hanna figure has a very similar stylized cylindrical form and abstracted modelling--qualities that exemplify Johnson's aesthetic interests in both modernism and African sculpture. The most pronounced difference between the two is that this version has cut eyes and the curved line that denotes the clasped hands. At a time when artistic representations of working African-American women were largely cartoonish, Johnson elevated the strength and dignity of everyday African-American women in his sculpture, infusing even small works with a commanding presence. Standing female figures from this period are Johnson's best known works--particularly the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art's Forever Free, 1933, and Negro Woman, circa 1935. Each are iconic and powerful representations of African-American womanhood.