Haitian Art Bidders Succeed at Auction

Sunday, November 22, 2009

The final tally is in for the recent Slotin Folk Art Auction in Buford, Georgia, open to absentee bidders via telephone and the Internet, as well as in person. Though the focus of the auction was primarily on American folk art, a small, select sampling of art from Haiti was included. Religious Vodou bottles, three out of four of which were painted rather than sequined and beaded, went for a reasonable $200. Unpainted metal sculptures, including “Couple with Turtle” by Serge Jolimeau, sold for $600, well under the estimate of $1,000 to $2,000. A lovely female encased in a pink bubble painted by the late Louisiane Saint Fleurant sold for $375, while other Saint Soleil masters were also sold including Prospere Pierre-Louis, whose “Yellow Face with Snakes” went for $550 — above the high estimate of $400. It is an outstanding painting, offset by yellow flowers in four corners. Levoy Exil’s “Abstract Faces on Blue,” measuring 28 inches square, sold for a mere $300, half of the low estimate for the work at $600.

It’s rare to find a painting by Francoise Eliassaint ever at auction and perhaps collectors knew this. Her “Madonna with Angels,” measuring 16 inches by 24 inches, went for $600. Gerard Paul, represented by two paintings, went for low prices including $250 for “Boat Concert,” measuring nearly 31 inches by 23 inches. That seems to be a big bargain. I absolutely loved the painting “Two Pink Women with a Yellow Cross,” measuring 12 inches by 16 inches by Makenol Profil. It went for a shocking $50, one-fourth the low estimate of $200.

Who knows what treasures will be offered in the next Slotin Folk Art Auction? The good news for Haitian artists is that attention is being paid, even if the prices that the works are worth aren’t being realized. It’s largely a buyer’s market and savvy buyers know it while snapping up exceptional art at pauper’s prices.

–Candice Russell

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