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A Juneteenth Artistic Gathering

6 artworks from 6 artists across 5 galleries
The tour is ordered to begin from the Michigan Avenue entrance. If you are starting in the Modern Wing, simply do your tour in reverse order.

Explore a range of works by Black artists, celebrating the distinct voices and perspectives that have contributed so much to our country and our culture.

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  • Boxer

    Richmond Barthé

    Richmond Barthé modeled Boxer from memory, inspired by the famed Cuban featherweight Eligio Sardiñas Montalvo, better known as “Kid Chocolate”—who, Barthé said, “moved like a ballet dancer.” Barthé, a Black sculptor who studied at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, frequently explored the expressive potential of the body’s form, pose, and movement. Here, the artist conveyed the boxer’s immense strength and agility with lyricism and grace.

    "Barthé showed talent as a child and was encouraged to draw and paint by his mother. When he was in his early twenties, Barthé's artistic skill was recognized by a Catholic priest, who raised money for him to attend art school in Chicago."

  • Multitudes

    Norman Lewis

    The only Black member of the first generation of Abstract Expressionists, Lewis took a unique approach among his peers by addressing social concerns through his art. The title of this work alludes to lines from Walt Whitman’s poem “Song of Myself," which perhaps Lewis intended as an acknowledgment of the complications of his artistic practice: “Do I contradict myself? / Very well then I contradict myself, / (I am large, I contain multitudes.).”

    "Though New York painter Norman Lewis worked in a social realist style early on, he started exploring abstraction in 1946. In 'Multitudes,' the rapidly layered calligraphy over a ground of pulsating color evokes the energy of American cities."

  • Head (Head of a Man)

    Elizabeth Catlett

    Sculptor and printmaker Elizabeth Catlett focused her career on representing African American subjects. She carved this bust in the early 1940s when, influenced by her study of African art, she began experimenting with abstraction. Though the figure is simplified and modernist, Catlett has carefully carved asymmetries into his features, creating a sense of individuality and vitality in smooth planes of limestone.

    "Elizabeth Catlett often made the experience of Black women the center of her work. 'I have always wanted my art to service my people,' she said. 'We have to create an art for liberation and for life.'"

  • Miscegenated Family Album

    Lorraine O'Grady

    Miscegenated Family Album is a series of diptychs, each containing an image of the ancient Egyptian queen Nefertiti paired with an image of the artist’s deceased sister, Devonia Evangeline O’Grady Allen, or with members of their respective families. Both reflect the consequences of generations of cross-cultural exchange and interracial marriage. The physical resemblances between the individuals, as in this diptych, are sometimes startling.

    "As an artist of African, Caribbean, and Irish descent, Lorraine O’Grady has mainly focused on representations of Black female subjectivity, often through the lens of family, literary, and art-historical narratives."

  • Flag Day

    Benny Andrews

    Andrews grew up in a family of Southern sharecroppers and attended the School of the Art Institute on the GI Bill. In his artworks, he depicted a wide range of scenes that celebrate the lives of ordinary Americans, but all with an eye towards dignity and social change. He painted this intimately scaled, potent painting of a Black man imprisoned by the “bars” of the American flag in 1966, in the midst of the Civil Rights Movement.

    "For works like 'Flag Day,' Andrews was increasingly categorized as a 'protest artist.' In 1969, he co-founded the Black Emergency Cultural Coalition (BECC) in New York, which advocated for the representation of Black artists in museums."

  • Sanctuary

    Martin Puryear

    After a fire destroyed a vast body of Martin Puryear's artworks, he began a series of sculptures based on the themes of movement and shelter. The whimsical Sanctuary appears to be in a state of arrested motion as it reconciles a longing for stability with a need for change. The pairing the wild tree saplings with a carefully fashioned shelter embodies what Puryear described as “mobility with a kind of escapism, of survival through flight.”

    "In his youth, Puryear explored woodworking as a craft. As an artist, he is known for creating elegant forms that are organic and sophisticated yet embrace, as he said, 'chance, accident, and rawness.'"


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