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Price Realized: $120,000 With Buyer's Premium Show Hammer Price
Sale 2268 Lot 141
WILLIAM T. WILLIAMS (1942 - )
Acrylic on canvas, 1971. 2032x1524 mm; 84x60 inches. Titled and dated in ink, verso on the stretcher bars.
Provenance: the artist; Reese-Palley Gallery; private New York collection. This work was bought from the artist's first solo gallery exhibition in New York by the current owner.
Eastern Star, a very large and exciting work, is the first painting by this important African-American artist to come to auction. This painting is an excellent example of William T. Williams's unique abstract vision--an elegant, layered Minimalist abstraction, infused with the geometries of jazz and non-Western cultures.
Williams's talents had been recognized from an early age. He was accepted in the summer before his senior year at Pratt Institute to the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture before receiving his B.A. in 1966. After earning his M.F.A. from Yale University in 1968, he participated in The Black Artist in America: A Symposium, held at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. Williams's abstract painting achieved early institutional recognition when the Museum of Modern Art, New York, purchased his 1969 painting Elbert Jackson L.A.M.F, Part II. His paintings were also included in such important exhibitions as the Studio Museum in Harlem's Inaugural Show, the Whitney Biennial and New Acquisitions at the Museum of Modern Art. In 1970, both the Jewish Museum, New York, and the Menil Collection, Houston, commissioned paintings.
The high key colors, diamonds and concentric curves of Eastern Star demonstrate the artist's dualism and his distinctive approach. Kellie Jones has noted how Williams was caught between "an interest in Color Field painting and interest in expressionism, and in trying to reconcile the two." The formalism of modernism and jazz often suggested a way to navigate the two tendencies. Williams's concept included the exhibition of these canvases, which were installed along the walls of the Reese-Palley Gallery side by side, while jazz music played. The sold-out exhibition was a pivotal success that year and for his career--the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, exhibited his work again, AT&T and General Mills purchased his art, and his work was featured in both Life and Time magazines.
In addition to his long career as a painter, for almost 40 years, Williams has taught at Brooklyn College, the City University of New York as a Professor of Art. He has also received numerous awards, including a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship, two National Endowment for the Arts Awards, and a Joan Mitchell Foundation Award. Jones pp. 16-17; Powell/Reynolds pp. 235-6.
Estimate $75,000 - 100,000Price Realized (with Buyer's Premium) $120,000