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Dancing Angel

1974 David Driskell Born: Eatonton, Georgia 1931 oil, fabric and collage on canvas 60 x 40 in. (152.4 x 101.6 cm) Smithsonian American Art Museum Gift of Cynthia Shoats and museum purchase © 1974, David C. Driskell 2004.27 Not currently on view


Artwork Description

Dancing Angel resonates with allusions to ancient, classical, and African art, and to personal history. The angel’s body is crafted with oil paint, fabric, and clippings from a 1969 Look magazine article entitled “The Blacks and the Whites: Can We Bridge the Gap?” The striped Benin cloth alludes to banded quilts made by Driskell’s mother, and the angel herself refers to Driskell’s father, a Baptist minister who often talked about angels in his sermons. The angel’s face—half modern, half reminiscent of Ife masks—signals the dual nature of Driskell’s own African American heritage. This complex collage is a tribute to Driskell’s family and to the multiple sources in Africa that infuse black life in the American south.

Modern Masters: Midcentury Abstraction from the Smithsonian American Art Museum, 2008

Keywords

Recreation - dancing

Religion - angel

painting - mixed media