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Alfonso Ossorio

Double Portrait
1944
watercolor and ink
14 x 20 in.
Smithsonian American Art Museum, Museum purchase

This elegant, hallucinatory drawing combines grotesque anatomical fragments, realistic portraiture, and surrealistic fantasy. Ossorio's state of mind can only be described as tormented, induced by his experiences during World War II, a recent divorce, and his uneasy acknowledgment of homosexuality. Double Portrait is based specifically on his memories of Camp Ellis, Illinois, where he suffered a life threatening accident and also worked as a medical illustrator, documenting injured soldiers and prisoners of war.