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    1953 Hughie Lee-Smith Watercolors

    Appraised Value:

    $20,000 - $30,000 (2013)

    Appraised on: June 1, 2013

    Appraised in: Detroit, Michigan

    Appraised by: David Weiss

    Category: Paintings & Drawings

    Episode Info: Detroit (#1804)

    Originally Aired: January 27, 2014

    slideshow IMAGE: 1 of 3 Next 

    More Like This:

    Form: Painting
    Material: Watercolor
    Period / Style: 20th Century
    Value Range: $20,000 - $30,000 (2013)

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    Appraisal Video: (2:43)


    Appraised By:

    David Weiss
    Paintings & Drawings, Rugs & Textiles

    Freeman's Auctioneers

    Appraisal Transcript:

    GUEST: I was looking for some proper fine original art when I opened my first architectural office in 1957. I went to the office of a very high-performance artist, Robert Kidd, and I couldn't afford any of his works. These really caught my eye. They're onion skin watercolors.

    APPRAISER: Right.

    GUEST: And I had to have them. It was the best I could buy for the money I had to spend.

    APPRAISER: So each of these is an original watercolor on paper. You know the artist, Hughie Lee-Smith. He was born in 1915, died in 1999. Born in Florida, briefly studied in Cleveland, also studied in Detroit, but really a favorite son of Detroit. He was and still is quite revered. I know he had an association with the Detroit Artists Market. He first exhibited in the city in 1947. He's only the second African-American artist to be elected as an associate member of the prestigious National Academy of Design. His artworks have become in greater demand. The market in general for the African-American artists, which you could argue 20, 30 years ago was very much underappreciated, has really come into its own. He is particularly interesting because he's sort of part of a larger social realist movement, artists who depict those who are socially underprivileged, the plight of people who are in poverty, issues associated with race, and you certainly see that, but he's also got a little bit of a strange undercurrent of surrealism, a little bit of brooding, almost a feel of disquiet in his works. These are both signed and dated. His style evolved, as is the case with many artists, and when he got into the '70s and '80s, he got into a lot more surrealism, paintings with very desolate figures, some of the same themes, but a little bit more sort of charged. The '40s and the '50s, while early in his career, represent the time period that people most like to collect of his works. Do you have any idea what these are worth in today's market?

    GUEST: I would have no idea, but I know it will be probably dramatically more than $100 for the two of them.

    APPRAISER: In today's market, you're probably talking about auction estimates for each one of about $10,000 to $15,000. It's quite a bit.

    GUEST: I think that's fantastic.

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