Famous Works from South End Artist Found in Storage, Now Up for Auction

It sounds like the plot of a movie: Important works by a prominent South End artist were found recently in an abandoned locker in western Massachusetts. 

Now, the artwork, a unique collection of works from visual artist Allan Rohan Crite, who was a long-time resident, artist and important figure in the South End for much of the 20th Century, is being put up for auction this weekend. 

The collection features a selection of autobiographical sketches in pencil documenting the African American experience. The works include prints, drawings, and the artist’s personal documents and studio materials, including a mannequin and his mimeograph machines. The works were the content of Crite’s studio that were put into storage in the 1990s when he became ill. 

Crite lived and worked in Boston for most of his life, starting out as a student at the Children’s Art Centre at the United South End Settlements before graduating from English High School in 1929 and earning degrees from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Harvard, and Suffolk. In his later years, he returned to the South End to live at work at the Allan Rohan Crite Research Institute on Columbus Avenue.  In 1986, the intersection of Columbus Avenue and West Canton Street was named Allan Rohan Crite Square. A 2002 Boston Globe review called Mr. Crite “the granddaddy of the Boston art scene,” naming him as “a master of his craft and a treasure of his community.”

An African-American man, Crite’s works centered around telling about what he called the “African-American Experience.”

“As a visual artist,” Mr. Crite said in a 1998 interview with the Harvard Extension School Alumni Bulletin, “I am . . . a storyteller of the drama of man. This is my small contribution – to tell the African-American experience – in a local sense, of the neighborhood, and, in a larger sense, of its part in the total human experience.” 

He died at the age of 97 in 2007. You can read more about Crite’s life in an obituary published by the Boston Globe

Crite’s works will be put up for auction at Grogan and Company, Fine Art Auctioneers and Appraisers in Dedham. The auction will be begin at 10 a.m. Sunday, June 16th, with a three-day exhibition opening on Thursday, June 13th.  More information on the auction can be found here

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