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Lot 61: CHARLES WHITE (1918 -1979) Work.Platinum House
October 6, 2011
New York, NY, USALive Auction
CHARLES WHITE (1918 -1979)
Wolff crayon and charcoal on illustration board, 1953. 1118x711 mm; 44x28 inches. Signed and dated in crayon, lower left.
Provenance: Cye Reiss, Beverly Hills, CA; Heritage Gallery, Los Angeles, with the label on the frame back; Russell D. Martin, M.D., Claremont, CA; thence by descent to the current owners.
Illustrated: Benjamin Horowitz, Images of Dignity: The Drawings of Charles White, p. 55; Sidney Finkelstein, Charles White: Ein Künstler Amerikas, pl. 33; Louie Robinson, "Charles White: Portrayer of Black Dignity," Ebony Magazine, Vol. 22, No. 9, July, 1967, p. 26; Negro Digest, June, 1967, cover.
Charles White created Work at the height of his New York career. This exceptional drawing is an excellent example of how, in the early 1950s, White gave a new beauty and dignity to his Social Realist subjects. Previously, White had used a more angular and stylized figuration that reflected his experience in the WPA and the influence of Mexican muralists. By the 1950s, White depicted working men and women on a grand scale, with an intensity of mark making and an attention to natural gestures that made his subjects into heroic figures.
Work is the first large scale drawing from White's important 1950s period to come to auction. In 1953, ACA Gallery in New York gave Charles White a solo exhibition of 15 paintings and drawings that cemented his growing international career and reputation. The year before, the Whitney Museum of American Art acquired the pen and ink drawing The Preacher. In particular, drawings from 1953 are often used as examples to represent his ouevre--including the Art Institute of Chicago's Harvest Talk and Ye Shall Inherit the Earth, the cover of Andrea D. Barnwell's monograph, Charles White. Gedeon D79.