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Head of a Black Woman

Terracotta sculpture of a woman of African descent's face: her hair is flattened against her skull, extending down to the figure’s neck, and its texture is delineated with small incisions. Her face possesses a prominent forehead, broad nose, and full lips. The sculpture is both highly individual yet also timeless and universal.

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  • Terracotta sculpture of a woman of African descent's face: her hair is flattened against her skull, extending down to the figure’s neck, and its texture is delineated with small incisions. Her face possesses a prominent forehead, broad nose, and full lips. The sculpture is both highly individual yet also timeless and universal.

Date:

c. 1935

Artist:

Sargent Claude Johnson
American, 1888–1967

About this artwork

In Head of a Black Woman, Sargent Claude Johnson combined abstract elements drawn from African sculpture and masks—such as the regularly scored marks that describe hair—with a naturalistic portrayal of the woman’s physiognomy. In the 1920s and 1930s, writer and philosopher Alain Locke urged artists to seek aesthetic inspiration from African art, and Johnson frequently followed this advice. Here, by subtly stylizing the woman’s appearance, Johnson made this delicate terracotta sculpture highly individual yet also timeless and universal.

Status

On View, Gallery 264

Department

Arts of the Americas

Artist

Sargent Claude Johnson

Title

Head of a Black Woman

Origin

United States

Date

c. 1935

Medium

Terracotta

Inscriptions

Signed: SARGENT JOHNSON (on underside of hair on proper left)

Dimensions

20.6 × 10.5 × 13.3 cm (8 1/8 × 4 1/8 × 5 1/4 in.) (sculpture) 7.9 × 10.8 × 10.2 cm (3 1/8 × 4 1/4 × 4 in.) (base)

Credit Line

Laura T. Magnuson Endowment

Reference Number

2000.86

Extended information about this artwork

Object information is a work in progress and may be updated as new research findings emerge. To help improve this record, please email . Information about image downloads and licensing is available here.

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