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Ernie Barnes (American, 1939–2009)
LOT ID: 79155
The Bassist, ie. circa 1994

Charcoal, Pencil
38 х 33 in. (96.52 x 83.82 cm.)
Signed, lower right
Lot description
Artwork measures 38 x 33 inches (96.5 x 83.8 cm). Framed size is 47 x 41 inches (119.4 x 104.1 cm).

This rare charcoal drawing by Ernie Barnes demonstrates the elongated figuration and emotional, dynamic subject matter that characterize the artist's most celebrated images. In "The Bassist," the musician's closed eyes, a motif which appears elsewhere in Barnes's work, are a commentary on the social invisibility of black Americans.

Ernie Barnes (1939-2009) was an American painter best known for his colorful, stylized depictions of athletes, musicians, and other figures in motion. Although deeply interested in art since childhood, Barnes began his career as an offensive lineman in the AFL and NFL, playing for the Washington Redskins, the New York Titans (later the Jets), the Denver Broncos, and the San Diego Chargers. Eventually, with the financial backing of New York Jets owner Sonny Werblin, Barnes embarked upon a career as a painter. He went on to receive widespread acclaim for his art, designing five posters for the 1984 Olympic Games and having his work featured on album covers for Curtis Mayfield, BB King, and other musicians. Barnes’s iconic painting “Sugar Shack” was featured in the credits of the television show “Good Times” and on the cover of the Marvin Gaye album “I Want You.” During his lifetime, Barnes exhibited at the Grand Central Art Galleries, New York, NY; the North Carolina Museum of Art, Raleigh, NC; and the African American Museum, Philadelphia, PA, among others.
The Bassist by Ernie Barnes
  • The Bassist by Ernie Barnes
  • The Bassist by Ernie Barnes
  • The Bassist by Ernie Barnes
  • The Bassist by Ernie Barnes
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