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Miss America Beauty Pageant

1973 Malcah Zeldis Born: New York, New York 1931 oil on masonite 48 x 40 in. (121.9 x 101.6 cm.) Smithsonian American Art Museum Gift of Herbert Waide Hemphill, Jr. 1998.84.66 Not currently on view

Luce Center Label

Malcah Zeldis spent several years living on a kibbutz in Israel and gave herself the Hebrew name Malcah, which means "queen," when she was nineteen. After she returned to the United States, she began to paint satires of American rituals, including national holidays, funerals, and splashy weddings. Zeldis points up the contrast between the golden blondes who dominate this painting and the dark-haired, dark-skinned people around them. The meaning is unclear, but the image suggests that the artist was coming to terms with a culture very different from what she had known in Israel.


Ceremony - other - beauty contest

Figure group


folk art

paint - oil

fiberboard - masonite

About Malcah Zeldis

Born: New York, New York 1931

More works in the collection by
Malcah Zeldis