Clementine Hunter

Funeral Procession, 1960-1969
Oil Paint
24 x 30 in
$11,600
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If you have been watching the prices of Clementine Hunter's work, you will know that they soared after record prices were reached for them in New York a few years back. Even the local New Orleans auction houses, where her work is mostly traded, were seeing huge prices -- $25,000 or more for paintings of this size and quality. I had to bow out. Since then I have kept an eye out for moderations in her prices when I can pick up great examples such as this that I can sell more affordably. Black artists have been in the spotlight lately, and while Clementine Hunter has been a big regional artist for a very long time, she's a national figure now and her work is being added to many museum collections. Institutions and prominent collectors have moved in hard.

At any rate, the first thing to ask about any Clementine is: is it authentic. Yes, there are fakes, and paintings by her son that are mistaken for (or presented as) hers. This one has been authenticated by "the" Clementine expert, Tom Whitehead, who has a close association with my source for this painting. Of course it has my own guarantee as well; I have sold many Clementines. You can find fakes at auction houses (many of them outside of the New Orleans area) and other venues that don't ask questions, for a lot less money, but don't be fooled!

Hunter painted what she saw going on around her at Melrose Plantation, including funeral processions such as this one. I love everything about this painting - from its complexity and bright colors to its larger size (the majority of her paintings measure 18" x 24"). One of the nicest we have ever had, for sure. The painting is oil on board.

With the purchase of this painting, you will receive a hardcover copy of the definitive book about Clementine Hunter, co-authored by none other than the expert who authenticated this painting, Tom Whitehead.

You can read biographical information about her below. Again, the painting is relatively LARGE for her work, at 24" x 32".

In good shape for a Clementine! No signs of restoration. Shows the typical bit of light surface dirt, pinholes, edge paint loss and such you see in most of these (she didn't pay much attention to archival techniques), but nothing distracting at all!


Clementine Hunter

LIFE
Clementine Hunter was born into a Creole family of former slaves, on a plantation in Louisiana. After only a few days of school, she left, preferring her work in the fields. She married Charlie Dupree and had two children. After Dupree’s death, she met and married Emmanuel Hunter, who taught her English and with whom she had five more children.
Hunter already had grandchildren when she discovered her passion for art. She was living at Melrose Plantation, whose mistress had transformed the property into a haven for artists. Hunter transferred from the fields to work as a cook and housekeeper. Legend has it that one day she found a few discarded tubes of paint and a window shade, and painted a baptism scene. After that, she was hooked. After her day’s work, she would quilt or paint, capturing the scenes of daily life around her. 
Hunter painted thousands of pieces during her lifetime, with whatever materials were to hand. The artists at the plantation soon recognised her and began giving her supplies, promoting her work and selling it for a few cents or a dollar. The New Orleans Museum of Art showed her work in the first solo exhibition given a Black artist — though Hunter couldn’t attend her own show until after hours. In the 70s, the Museum of American Folk Art in New York and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art exhibited her paintings. Hunter carried on her simple life and artwork until the age of 101.
 

ART
Hunter’s work disregards proportion and perspective to present simple, expressive scenes of plantation life — cotton picking, weddings, funerals. Illiterate, she wanted to tell her memories and stories through her pictures for the generations to come. “I’m glad the young people of today can look at my paintings,” she said, “and see how easy and uncomplicated things were when we lived off the land. I wanted to tell them. I paint the history of my people.”
 

RECOGNITION
During Hunter’s life, she remained poor and unaffected by her fame. When President Jimmy Carter invited her to the White House, she turned him down because she didn’t like to travel outside of Louisiana.
Now, her paintings are prized and skyrocketing in price, and she is acclaimed as an original spirit and a communicator of her culture and times to ours.
 

Sources:
AskArt
Google Arts and Culture
Smithsonian Magazine
NMWA.org