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Our City

1998 Herbert Gentry Born: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 1919 Died: Stockholm, Sweden 2003 acrylic on canvas 60 x 50 in. (152.4 x 127.0 cm) Smithsonian American Art Museum Bequest of the artist © 1998, Herbert Gentry 2006.22.1 Not currently on view

Exhibition Label

Our City is a field of barely controlled skeins of color that swirl around a large central head. Above, a face resembling a traditional African mask summons thoughts of Gentry’s ancestors. Below is a perched bird, a form that appears often in Gentry’s art as a metaphor for the unconscious. Gentry said he painted “people I’ve met throughout most of the world – American, African American…who are my friends.” Our City has the feel of both a memory painting and an ancestral tree. It evokes people he knew and the ancestors whose lives and cultures are an inextricable part of his identity.

African American Art: Harlem Renaissance, Civil Rights Era, and Beyond, 2012




paint - acrylic

fabric - canvas