Arrangement in Blue and Grey

Object Details

Charles Alston
oil on canvas
50 5/16 × 50 in. (127.8 × 127 cm)
Frame: 50 3/4 × 50 5/8 × 1 5/8 in. (128.9 × 128.6 × 4.1 cm)
Jagged vertical forms disrupt, yet connect, more symmetrical shapes in this oil painting by Charles Henry Alston (1907-1977). Deep browns and blacks traverse blocks of blue, grey, brown, and white painted in thin washes of oil. An expressive face resembling a cow or sheep in the artwork’s center turns to peer at the viewer. Alston painted portraits and scenes populated with people, as well as abstract compositions like this one. Born in North Carolina, Alston moved to New York City at age seven. He earned an MFA from Columbia University and mentored young artists, including Jacob Lawrence and Georgette Seabrooke Powell, serving as one of the few African American supervisors in the Works Progress Administration’s Federal Art Project. From 1963 to 1965, he belonged to Spiral, a diverse group of African American artists who, motivated by the March on Washington, met weekly to discuss the role of artists in the Civil Rights Movement and the relationship of aesthetics and political expression.
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