Quinn’s Auction Galleries will offer fine art from the inventory and personal collection of Merton D. Simpson (1928-2013) as the highlight of their February 18, 2017 African-American Artists Auction.
Not only a visionary collector and dealer of African and tribal arts, Simpson was also a prolific and celebrated abstract expressionist, creating thousands of artworks in his lifetime. A native of South Carolina, Simpson overcame both childhood illness and segregation on the path to becoming a respected, widely collected artist.
At the age of 13, Simpson was brought under the tutelage of fellow Charleston artist William Melton Halsey. Halsey helped develop the youngster’s skills and introduced him to the world of abstract art, even providing the financial backing for Simpson’s first solo art show. This close bond lasted for the remainder of Halsey’s life.
Quinn’s is proud to offer a work inscribed by Halsey and gifted to Simpson, lot 91, After Glow, with an estimate of $1,500-$2,500.
After high school, Simpson moved to New York where he studied at NYU and Cooper Union. He subsequently became a member of the Spiral Group, an influential collective of African-American artists that also included Romare Bearden and Hale Woodruff. The artists committed themselves to exploring political and social issues through their work.
It was at this point that Simpson began his best-known series, “Confrontation.” Though he revisited the series in the years to follow, some of his most significant pieces are from those early years. Lot 42, an early work from the “Confrontation” series, is estimated at $10,000-$15,000.
From the 1950s until his passing in 2013, Simpson operated a New York gallery. There, he showcased his own work plus that of his friends and contemporaries – including Beauford Delaney, Norman Lewis, Hale Woodruff, and John Biggers – and other established and aspiring New York artists.
In 2016 Quinn’s Auction Galleries was appointed to auction the artist’s estate holdings. The February 18 auction will be the first to feature exclusively the Simpson collection’s fine artworks, following two successful sales of Simpson’s ethnographic art collection. The auction features more than 40 works by Merton D. Simpson plus additional art by John Biggers, Catti, Norman Lewis, Felrath Hines, Beauford Delaney, Nancy Flanagan, and more.
The February 18 auction will start at 11 AM ET at Quinn’s Auction Galleries in Falls Church, Virginia. All forms of bidding will be available, including live via the Internet through LiveAuctioneers.