Study for "Africa and the Bull #4"

Object Details

Hale Woodruff
c. 1958
gouache and charcoal on paper
17 13/16 × 23 7/8 in. (45.2 × 60.7 cm)
In this study for Africa and the Bull by Hale Woodruff (1900-1980), a female figure emerges from thick charcoal in spiky angles and sharp curves. Thinner charcoal lines construct a white, muscular bull beneath its rider. Woodruff revises Greek mythology’s Europa and the bull in gouache and charcoal on paper. In the abstract drawing, a white bull absconds with Africa, depicted as a Black woman and a metaphor for the exploitation of Africans by Europeans in the transatlantic slave trade. A grey wash and ink drips echo the aquatic abduction of the Middle Passage. An oil painting by the same name served as the renowned muralist’s contribution to an exhibition by Spiral, a group of African American artists who 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. 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 (2002.0002.0014, 2002.0002.0016, 2002.0002.0022).
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Anacostia Community Museum Collection
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