Golden State Mutual Life Insurance Company to Sell Major Collection of African-American Art at Auction in New York on October 4

. October 3, 2007

Collection Features Works by John Biggers, Elizabeth Catlett, Jacob Lawrence, Hughie Lee-Smith, Henry Ossawa Tanner, Charles White, and Many Influential California African-American Artists

On October 4 Swann Galleries will auction superb examples of African-American Fine Art from the Collection of the Golden State Mutual Life Insurance Company. Golden State Mutual Life is one of the largest and oldest African-American owned insurance companies in the United States.

Starting in the 1950s, they built a collection of significant works by major African-American artists including many from California. Swann’s auction preview will be the first time in more than 30 years that the collection will be exhibited outside of the company’s headquarters. The fully illustrated catalogue will include artist biographies, bibliographies and scholarly essays by Dr. Leslie King-Hammond, Dr. Lizzetta LeFalle-Collins and Charlotte Sherman.

Nigel Freeman, Director of Swann’s African-American Fine Art department, said, “This impressive collection represents an important part of both the history of American art and the history of African-American achievement, and we are honored to offer it.”

“We’re excited about collaborating with Swann Galleries,” said Larkin Teasley, Chairman and President of Golden State Mutual Life. “A portion of the proceeds from the auction will be used to purchase art from upcoming artists in need of our support. This was our policy when we originally acquired the pieces to be auctioned, and it remains our policy today.”

Highlights of the collection include:

• Charles White, General Moses (Harriet Tubman), ink drawing, 1965. Commissioned by Golden State, this is an important work from the artist’s mature period, and is considered by many to be one of the finest African-American drawings (estimate: $200,000 to $250,000).

• Elizabeth Catlett, El Abrazo (The Embrace), mahogany sculpture, 1978. The artist was at the height of her powers when she created this modern and sensuous sculpture (estimate: $200,000 to $250,000).

• Jacob Lawrence, The Legend of John Brown, portfolio with 22 color screenprints, 1977. A pristine and complete set of Lawrence’s first historical print series (estimate: $130,000 to $160,000). [Another set brought a record price at Swann’s first African-American Fine Art auction in February 2007.]

• John Biggers, Market Women, Ghana, oil on canvas. Displays all the complexity of composition and draftsmanship associated with the artist’s Ghana period (estimate: $100,000 to $150,000).

• Henry Ossawa Tanner, Seated Arab, oil on board. A small study by this influential 19th-century artist demonstrates his interest in the Holy Land, and a painterly approach to his subject (estimate: $30,000 to $50,000).

• Hughie Lee-Smith, Slum Song oil on canvas, 1944. An early painting by this eloquent artist in which he captures the isolation of modern urban life (estimate: $30,000 to $50,000).

• David Hammons, Moving to the Other Side, monotype, 1969. An early monotype in which the artist directly printed his body parts onto paper. Hammons was a student of Charles White in Los Angeles, and has become one of the most sought after contemporary artists in the U.S. (estimate: $60,000 to $90,000).

There are also other works in a variety of mediums by many influential California African-American artists including Charles Dickson, Varnette Honeywood, Samella Lewis, William Pajaud, John Riddle, Betye Saar, John Scott, William Smith, Beulah Woodard and Richard Wyatt.

Swann Galleries’ first auction devoted entirely to African-American Fine Art, held February 6, 2007, was the first sale of its kind at any major auction house. The results exceeded $2.3 million, and 17 record prices were achieved for works by significant African-American artists.

The auction of the Golden State Mutual Collection will take place on Thursday, October 4 at 2:00 p.m.

The works of art will be on public exhibition at Swann Galleries from September 29 through the morning of the sale. There will be a gala preview reception at Swann on the evening of Tuesday, October 2.

A fully illustrated color catalogue, with information on bidding by mail or fax, will be available for $35 from Swann Galleries, 104 East 25 Street, New York, NY 10010 on September 15. The catalogue will also be posted online at and bids can be submitted by e-mail via the website.

For further information, and to make advance arrangements to bid by telephone during the auction, please contact Nigel Freeman at (212) 254-4710, extension 33, or via email at

About Swann Galleries
Swann Auction Galleries was founded in 1941 as an auction house specializing in Rare and Antiquarian Books, and today is the largest specialist auctioneers of Works on Paper in the world. Swann conducts an average of 40 sales a year, encompassing Rare & Antiquarian Books, Autographs, Maps, Photographs & Photographic Literature, Old Master through Contemporary Prints & Drawings, and Vintage Posters. There are annual special-subject sales devoted to African-Americana, Magic and Space Exploration. Visit for more information.

About Golden State Mutual Life Insurance Company
Golden State Mutual Life Insurance Company was founded in 1925 and is one of the oldest and largest African-American owned life insurance companies in the country. Throughout the years, Golden State Mutual has gained a solid reputation by providing financial security and superior customer service to its policyholders. The Company offers a full array of financial services for growing families, individuals and businesses including permanent and term life insurance, education plans, annuities, final expense plans, retirement plans, disability income and mortgage protection. Headquartered in Los Angeles, California, Golden State Mutual’s presence in other major cities now includes Oakland, New Orleans, Washington D.C., Detroit, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Charlotte and many others. Visit for more information.

Category: Auction News

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