Apr 06, 2017 - Sale 2442

Sale 2442 - Lot 58

Price Realized: $ 93,750
?Final Price Realized includes Buyer’s Premium added to Hammer Price
Estimate: $ 35,000 - $ 50,000
WALTER WILLIAMS (1920 - 1988)
Untitled (Boy on a Porch).

Oil and sand on masonite board, circa 1965. 940x1092 mm; 37x43 inches. Signed in oil, lower right.

Provenance: private collection, New York.

This newly discovered work is a significant but unrecorded painting from Walter Williams' Southern Landscape series. It is also the largest painting by the artist to come to auction. Walter Williams creates a dense, textured surface with an expressive, almost organic build up of brushstrokes, dots, drips and daubs of paint, often with sand mixed in. Williams tells a simple narrative in this scene of a pensive young boy seated in the cool shadows of a farm porch. The dense and dark sunflowers, rag rug and wood are subsumed into the dark shadows and the mass of the house. This black block is contrasted against the piercing pinks and magentas of the field and sky under a bright red sun. The artist in 1965 used the same compositional device in the print Flowering - see lot 57. At this time, he also began painting larger works on masonite board.

Born in Brooklyn, the painter, printmaker and sculptor Walter Williams studied art at the Brooklyn Museum Art School under Ben Shahn, Reuben Tam and Gregorio Prestopino from 1951-55. His social realist New York City street scenes were exhibited as early as 1952 at Roko Gallery, and included in 1953 in the Annual Exhibition of Contemporary American Painting at the Whitney Museum. But after receiving a John Hay Whitney Foundation fellowship in 1955, which he used to travel to Denmark in 1956, Williams left behind the stark subjects of the city for a warmer, poetic countryside. He found a new level of expression in a series of imaginary Southern landscapes and inspiration living abroad. It became a subject the artist would revisit again and again for the next twenty years.