Artwork of the Week

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Mar. 6 Art Minute: Magdalene Odundo, “Untitled”

Posted on Monday, March 6th, 2017

Art is intuitive; it is the essence of being human. Kenyan–born artist Magdalene Odundo’s style is very much influenced by African metalwork and American Southwest ceramics. This work from 1988 was created after several trips to Kenya and Nigeria as well to New Mexico, where she saw Puebloan black wares being created. Odundo hand-built this […]

Feb. 27 Art Minute: Jacob Lawrence, ‘Barber Shop’

Posted on Monday, February 27th, 2017

“When the subject is strong, simplicity is the only way to treat it.”—Jacob Lawrence The barbershop has always occupied an essential place for men in African-American society.  Not simply a place to get a haircut, it is also a magnet for social interaction, a place to discuss issues of the day. While artist Jacob Lawrence […]

Feb. 20 Art Minute: Kara Walker, ‘Freedom: A Fable’

Posted on Monday, February 20th, 2017

Freedom: A Fable is the first work by Kara Walker in book format and inspired by literary memoirs of former slaves or novels like Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Similar to her murals, the artist here employs black paper silhouettes to narrate the history of southern American slavery in an ironic and provocative manner. Her paper cut-outs […]

Feb. 13 Art Minute: Kehinde Wiley, ‘Saint Francis of Paola’

Posted on Monday, February 13th, 2017

How do you look at a young black man in American society? It is a very important question, especially at this moment in our culture. — Kehinde Wiley Though now Kehinde Wiley sometimes paints well–known figures, he still practices the collaborative method he developed in his early career, which he calls “street casting.” As he […]

Feb 6. Art Minute: Elizabeth Catlett, ‘Playmates,’ from ‘For My People’

Posted on Monday, February 6th, 2017

The granddaughter of slaves, Elizabeth Catlett grew up in segregated Washington, D.C. In 1946, she was awarded a Rosenwald Foundation fellowship to study art in Mexico City, moving there permanently in 1947 and marrying Mexican artist Francisco Mura. Catlett had a strong social conscience, and throughout her long career her art not only celebrated black […]

Jan. 30 Art Minute: William Morris, ‘Suspended Artifact’

Posted on Monday, January 30th, 2017

To produce the fossilized effect of the two tusk–like blown–glass forms of this sculpture, William Morris first dipped the hot blown glass in cold water and then filled the resulting cracks with opaque colored glass powder and the chemical scavo. After annealing (slowly cooling) the forms, he coated the surfaces with acid, resulting in an […]

Jan. 23 Art Minute: Henri Matisse, ‘Flowers’

Posted on Monday, January 23rd, 2017

Flowers belongs to a series of sumptuous still lifes that Matisse painted in 1924–1925, each set in studio interiors. In these paintings, the principle subject—in this case, a ceramic vase of bright flowers—is arranged on a patterned tablecloth against a background decorated with patterned wallpaper and examples of Matisse’s work, here an unframed drawing of […]

Jan. 16 Art Minute: Ernest C. Withers, ‘First Desegregated Bus Ride’

Posted on Monday, January 16th, 2017

African American freelance photographer Ernest Withers documented many of the most important events of the Civil Rights era, from the galvanizing murder trial of Emmett Till in 1955 through the Montgomery bus boycott; the marches of Martin Luther King, Jr.; the rise of Black Power; and King’s assassination. His insightful images had a wide impact, […]

Jan. 9 Art Minute: Dante Gabriel Rossetti, ‘The Salutation of Beatrice’

Posted on Monday, January 9th, 2017

Pale faced, full–lipped, with a thick head of wavy chestnut hair, this image of medieval Florentine gentlewoman Beatrice Portinari embodies the Pre-Raphaelite ideal of beauty. The group of British artists and writers calling themselves the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood aspired to an aesthetic based on early Italian Renaissance art and the direct observation of nature, in contrast […]

Jan. 2 Art Minute: R. B. Kitaj, ‘Notes Toward a Definition of Nobody—A Reverie’

Posted on Monday, January 2nd, 2017

Nobody sits cross legged in high-top sneakers with a padlocked mouth, unable to verbally defend himself. R. B. Kitaj’s source for the image of Nobody was a German legend originating in the 1500s. Nobody was a scapegoat who would take the blame for any disharmony in the home. Centuries later, Nobody’s imposed silence was transformed […]