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Study for "Africa and the Bull #3"

Object Details

Hale Woodruff
c. 1958
gouache and charcoal on paper
17 7/8 × 23 7/8 in. (45.4 × 60.7 cm)
In thick charcoal lines, a figure takes shape in upper right of this study for Africa and the Bull by renowned muralist Hale Woodruff (1900-1980). The abstract drawing revises the Greek myth of Europa and the bull, instead depicting a Black woman aboard a white bull to represent European exploitation of Africans in the transatlantic slave trade. The bull’s body emerges from thinner black lines, its whiteness highlighted by the black figure on its back and surrounding grey wash in this gouache and charcoal study on paper. An oil painting by the same name, part of a series, was Woodruff’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. 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, 2002.0002.0021).
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Anacostia Community Museum Collection
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Anacostia Community Museum
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