About this artwork
Eldzier Cortor painted The Room No. VI in Chicago, where he had grown up and trained as an artist. The work exposes the impoverished living conditions many African Americans experienced on the city’s South Side in the early decades of the 20th century. As a result of racial bias in housing, black residents were often forced to live in what were called “kitchenettes,” namely, apartments subdivided into one-room spaces with limited access to kitchens or bathrooms. The nude woman anchoring the composition is flanked by three other individuals, whose cropped bodies extend across a single mattress. The artist emphasized pattern and texture, particularly the shapes and brilliant colors of the bed linens, floorboards, and wallpaper. Cortor’s deliberately decorative vocabulary recasts the scene’s bleak circumstances into a dynamic, luminous composition.
- Eldzier Cortor
- The Room No. VI
- United States (Artist's nationality)
- Oil and gesso on Masonite
- Signed lower right: E. Cortor Inscribed on verso: "The Room No. VI" / Eldzier Cortor / July, 1948 / oil on gesso / size 31" x 42" / Chicago, IL
- 107.3 × 80 cm (42 1/4 × 31 1/2 in.)
- Through prior acquisition of Friends of American Art and Mr. and Mrs. Carter H. Harrison; through prior gift of the George F. Harding Collection
- © Eldzier Cortor.