art by Claude J. Easy May 22, 2018
One can only hope that Kerry James Marshall cracked a modest Basquiat-like smile after Diddy dropped big racks ($21.1 million to be exact) on his painting “Past Times,” last Wednesday at the Sotheby’s auction.
The Chicago artist who has been painting for 40 years finally got the come up he deserves. To prove it, the acrylic and collage on canvas displayed Black Americans posted in a park enjoying leisure sports like golf, croquet, water skiing, and other activities associated with affluent white suburbanites.
Lest we mention the picnickers bumping to the tune of the Temptations and Snoop Dogg serving as the vanguard of the beautiful painting. Thank God for Swizz Beatz. The art god put Diddy on to Marshall’s exquisite artworks.
“Past Times” After completing the Garden Project series, Marshall painted “Past Times,” which moves into the shared public space of the city. High-rise towers appear in the distance, but the focal point is an urban pastoral scene, filled with green grass and blue water. The African American figures—all dressed in white—are engaged in various forms of recreation. The painting depicts leisurely pastimes, but the title points to the past. In this respect, the perfect scene might suggest a history that hasn’t happened yet or desire come to life. The family in the foreground stares back at the viewer as if just interrupted. The songs on their radios suggest two divergent outlooks: a runaway imagination and a reality check—“got my money on my mind.” Learn more: http://bit.ly/1T7DDRn All images and details: Kerry James Marshall “Past Times,” 1997 Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority, McCormick Place Art Collection Photo: Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago
The piece was originally acquired for $25,000 by the Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority in 1997. In fact, “Past Times” was a late entry in the Sotheby’s auction and was estimated to sell for at least $8 million, proving that the eye for Black art is changing.
The piece attracted four bidders but it was Diddy’s winning bid that ultimately shifted culture, setting a new record for the top price at auction for any work by a living Black artist, according to the NYT. Before Marshall, it was Mark Bradford and his 2007 “Helter Skelter” piece which sold for $12 million in March at Phillips in London.
Can you imagine if Jean-Michel Basquiat was still alive? Homie would run the game as his “Flesh and Spirit” piece sold for $30.7 million at the auction.
Death shouldn’t add value to an artist’s works and like Diddy we should champion for Black artists who are still alive and are flexing for Black culture.
Don’t be the one playing catch up with Black art. Candace Worth, an art adviser based in NY, spoke wisely on this very Black movement. She told the NYT,
“The rise of African-American artists is part of a broader tendency to re-evaluate neglected artists that’s been going on for a few years. Art history isn’t just about the big Ab-Ex guys anymore… We’re opening a conversation, and the market is playing catch-up.”
This is definitely a great trend the cultural community should support as there are many dope Black artist out there grinding to get to Basquiat level. To get you started, here are seven Black living artists on the rise that you should most definitely peep.
See anything you like? This is just a light overview of what’s out there OG.
So, get your art game up lil’ guy, get sucked into the artsy IG vortex, and find something that might be worth saving up for an investment.
Know that there’s nothing better than investing in living Black artists, ya dig.