Object Details

Hale Woodruff
c. 1958
charcoal and conte on paper
23 7/8 × 17 7/8 in. (60.7 × 45.4 cm)
Hale Woodruff (1900-1980) created this study for Africa and the Bull, his series reinterpreting the myth of Europa from an Afrocentric perspective. In gouache and charcoal on paper, thick black angles and curves outline the emergent figure of Africa in the upper half of the vertical artwork. Thin black lines trace the beginnings of a white bull underneath the rider. Woodruff revises the myth’s ubiquitous trope, from the disguised Zeus absconding with Europa by sea to European exploitation of Africans in the transatlantic slave trade. The completed oil painting was the renowned muralist’s contribution to an exhibition by Spiral, a group of African American artists that met weekly between 1963 and 1965 to discuss the role of artists in the Civil Rights Movement and the relationship of aesthetics and political expression. Woodruff founded Spiral along with Romare Bearden, who loaned his studio for the group’s meetings. Guidelines for Spiral’s only exhibition required artwork to be black and white as the artists, diverse in age and approach, explored form in tandem with racial injustice. This study is one of four by Woodruff in the Anacostia Community Museum’s collection (2002.0002.0016, 2002.0002.0021, 2002.0002.0022).
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Anacostia Community Museum Collection
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