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The Room No. VI

Three figures dark-skinned, elongated figures lie on a bed of patterned quilts, viewed from above, slightly abstracted. The central figure wears no clothing, their back and buttocks visible. A leg juts in at bottom right. To the right of the bed on a wooden floor lie newspapers and a white baby doll.
© Eldzier Cortor.

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  • Three figures dark-skinned, elongated figures lie on a bed of patterned quilts, viewed from above, slightly abstracted. The central figure wears no clothing, their back and buttocks visible. A leg juts in at bottom right. To the right of the bed on a wooden floor lie newspapers and a white baby doll.

Date:

1948

Artist:

Eldzier Cortor
American, 1916–2015

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.

Status

On View, Gallery 263

Department

Arts of the Americas

Artist

Eldzier Cortor

Title

The Room No. VI

Place

United States (Artist's nationality)

Date

1948

Medium

Oil and gesso on Masonite

Inscriptions

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

Dimensions

107.3 × 80 cm (42 1/4 × 31 1/2 in.)

Credit Line

Through prior acquisition of Friends of American Art and Mr. and Mrs. Carter H. Harrison; through prior gift of the George F. Harding Collection

Reference Number

2007.329

Copyright

© Eldzier Cortor.

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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