Pharrell‘s JOOPITER has announced “Holding Court,” a charitable auction featuring previously unseen works by the influential artist Ernie Barnes. Barnes, a celebrated African American painter and former professional football player, gained significant recognition during the Civil Rights Movement for his distinctive “neo-mannerist” style, characterized by elongated and fluid figures in vibrant, dynamic paintings. Beyond his artistic talent, Barnes was known for his dedication to community, representation, and social justice.
The proceeds from the auction will be entirely directed to the Yetunde Price Resource Center, a community-based organization co-founded by Isha Price, Serena Williams, and Venus Williams. The center provides trauma-informed programs and resources to individuals and families affected by violence and systemic oppression, established in honor of their late sister, Yetunde Price.
Among Barnes’ most famous works is the 1976 painting “Sugar Shack,” depicting a Black American dance club, which appeared on the cover of Marvin Gaye’s album “I Want You” and in the TV series “Good Times.” Recently, this iconic piece was auctioned for a record-breaking $15.3M at Christie’s. Altogether, the “Holding Court” auction will feature four exceptional works acquired from the Barnes Estate, never before publicly exhibited and therefore available for the first time in this auction.
Serena Williams expressed admiration for Ernie Barnes as an iconic Black artist whose vibrant imagery envisioned a harmonious world among all communities and races. She emphasized the significance of these never-before-seen works in funding and supporting those affected by violence in Compton and underserved communities across the nation. Venus Williams echoed the sentiment: “We are very excited to be partnering with JOOPITER on the Holding Court auction to support the vital work of the Yetunde Price Resource Center. This collaboration allows us to share our deep love of art in a way that enriches and empowers the broader community. Ernie Barnes’ artwork played a profound role in creating societal change, and we hope this partnership will similarly inspire, uplift, and make a lasting difference in the lives of individuals and the communities we serve.”
The “Holding Court” auction will be open for global bidding on JOOPITER.com from July 24 to August 1, 2023. Elsewhere in art, Kenny Scharf partnered with the New York Academy of Art on a limited edition print.