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Wyatt Day~ Swann Galleries,

  • Broadcast in Education
The Gist of Freedom

The Gist of Freedom


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On February 25, Swann Galleries conducted their 15th annual auction of Printed & Manuscript African Americana. Highlights ranged from material on slavery and abolition to artifacts of the modern Civil Rights movement, and an important archive on African-American Art.

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The auction’s top lot was an immense archive of research material amassed by art historian James Amos Porter that consisted of thousands of items including photographs, letters, exhibit catalogues, art books, flyers, and bibliographical data on important African-American artists. Porter was an artist, and head of the Art Department at Howard University for more than 40 years. He is well known for his groundbreaking text, Modern Negro Art, 1943, which placed these artists’ contributions into the broader context of American and modern art. The archive sold to a major university for $50,400.

Another highlight of the sale was a rare surviving poster carried by a striking sanitation worker in Memphis, TN. Martin Luther King Jr. marched with the strikers in April 1968 shortly before he was assassinated. Bidding for the printed placard that says I AM A MAN, opened at $9,000, and rapidly rose to a final price of $40,800.