About This Artwork

Charles White
American, 1918–1979

This, My Brother, 1942

Oil on canvas
61 x 91.4 cm (24 x 36 in.)
Signed lower right: Charles White 42

Pauline Palmer Prize Fund, 1999.224

© The Charles White Archives

Like many artists of his generation, Chicagoan Charles White believed that art could be an influential force in the struggle to promote racial equality for African Americans, stating, “Paint is the only weapon I have with which to fight what I resent.” He addressed the quest for dignity and freedom in This, My Brother, which takes its title from a poem by John Rood about a rural miner who experiences a political awakening. In the painting, the man appears to break free from a mountain of rubble, alluding to White’s hope that social change could be realized.

— Permanent collection label

Exhibition, Publication and Ownership Histories

Exhibition History

Atlanta University, Exhibition of Paintings by Negro Artists of America, April 19-May 10, 1942, cat. 69.

Chicago, Spertus Museum, A Force for Change: African American Art and the Julius Rosenwald Fund, February 2-June 5, 2009; traveled to Allentown Art Museum, September 13, 2009-January 10, 2010; Montclair Art Museum, February 6-July 25, 2010 (Chicago only).

Art Institute of Chicago, They Seek a City: Chicago and the Art of Migration, 1910-1950, March 3-June 3, 2013, cat. 91.

Publication History

Judith A. Barter et al., "American Modernism at the Art Institute of Chicago, From World War I to 1955," (Art Institute of Chicago/Yale University Press, 2009), cat. 137.

Ownership History

The artist; to Dr. William Patterson and Louise Thompson Patterson, New York; to Mary Louise Patterson, New York; [ACA Galleries]; sold to the Art Institute of Chicago in 1999.

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