ERNIE BARNES (1938 - 2009)
ERNIE BARNES (1938 - 2009)
ERNIE BARNES (1938 - 2009)
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On occasion, Christie's has a direct financial int… Read more PROPERTY OF AN IMPORTANT AMERICAN COLLECTION
ERNIE BARNES (1938 - 2009)

Bank Shot, Corner Pocket

ERNIE BARNES (1938 - 2009)
Bank Shot, Corner Pocket
signed 'ERNIE BARNES' (lower right)
acrylic on canvas
35 7/8 x 47 3/4 in. (90.8 x 121.3 cm.)
Painted in 1982.
Private collection, Los Angeles, acquired directly from the artist
Private collection, Los Angeles, 1986
Acquired from the above by the present owner
Beverly Hills, UTA Artist Space, Ernie Barnes: Liberating Humanity From Within, November-December 2020.
Special notice
On occasion, Christie's has a direct financial interest in the outcome of the sale of certain lots consigned for sale. This will usually be where it has guaranteed to the Seller that whatever the outcome of the auction, the Seller will receive a minimum sale price for the work. This is known as a minimum price guarantee. This is such a lot.
Further details
This work is included in the forthcoming Catalogue Raisonné prepared by the Ernie Barnes Estate. We would like to thank Luz Rodriguez at the Ernie Barnes Estate for her assistance in cataloguing this work.

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Lot Essay

Painted in 1982, Ernie Barnes’ Bank Shot, Corner Pocket is an iconic depiction of one of Ernie Barnes’ most significant subjects: the pool hall. Illuminated under the atmospheric lights hovering above the table, one player can be seen with his body in position to strike his winning shot. The surrounding scene encompasses an air of anticipation while also cultivating that strong sense of community Barnes is known for. Every person present on the canvas has an identity and purpose in the scope of this narrative. Whether it be the opponent positioned opposite of the table waxing his pool cue, prepared to continue playing as if already deciding his opponent won’t sink the eight ball, or the man on the floor above resting on the couch, each person is given the same level of care to offer the viewer an immersive experience as they are placed into the scene.
This painting embodies a neoclassical elegance as it portrays a tense moment on the precipice of action. In this case, it is the potential for the player to win the match, and the title Bank Shot, Corner Pocket alludes to the shot the player is calling in order to secure their victory. This type of style and heightened anticipation can be seen throughout numerous examples in the canon of art history. Most famously, Michelangelo’s The Creation of Adam shows the mere second before the fingers of Adam and God meet. Though seemingly more subdued, the present example harnesses that same power as we see the moment before the end of a high-stakes game. Barnes’ hyper focus on this moment may not hold the same universal gravitas as the creation of man, but for this community on this night shown on this canvas, the impact is just as great. In fact, this idea of glamorizing the moments not thought of to be conventionally “worthy” of artistic subject is a common through-line within some of the most iconic Impressionist and Post-Impressionist pictures by Renoir, Manet, Courbet and Seurat.
The present work also captures the crucial shift that took place in Barnes’ practice after he moved to Los Angeles in the early 1970’s. Living in the Fairfax District, a predominantly Jewish neighborhood, inspired him to reflect on the concept of community. He found the Jewish people’s sense of history and customs to be admirable and wanted that for his own Black community. He goes on to tackle this mission in his artwork by highlighting scenes like in Bank Shot, Corner Pocket as a visual history of the moments and community that define a culture often overlooked. In a celebrations of Ernie Barnes and his work, this piece was included in an exhibition entitled Liberating Humanity From Within that Barnes curated himself prior to his death in 2009. The show had never been seen until 2020 and perfectly showcases, with the help of the present work and other monumental pieces like the famous Sugar Shack (1976), Barnes’ desire to impact the next generation and how we move forward with collective grace.

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