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Sargent Johnson

Mask
about 1930–35
copper on wood base
15 1/2 x 13 1/2 x 6 in.
Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of International Business Machines Corporation

During the 1930s, Sargent Johnson executed several copper masks and sculptures based on African examples. Johnson explained his intent saying: “It is the pure American Negro I am concerned with, aiming to show the natural beauty and dignity in that characteristic lip and that characteristic hair, bearing, and manner; and I wish to show that beauty not so much to the White man as to the Negro himself.”