Brothers

  • Malvin Gray Johnson, Brothers, 1934, oil on canvas, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of the Harmon Foundation, 1967.57.29

Exhibition Label

Johnson painted Brothers in the rolling foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains outside Charlottesville, Virginia. The boys' overalls and bare feet, and the angled picket fence that blocks recessive space, locate them in a small-town setting. During his career, Johnson moved easily between explorations of modernist composition and what was then known as "racial art" -- art that paid homage to contemporary African American life and its ancestral roots. The children's faces show no emotion; the only hint of their relationship comes through the placement of the younger boy, who leans against the protective shoulder of his stronger, older brother.

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

Luce Center Label

With the money he earned from the New Deal's Public Works of Art Project, Malvin Gray Johnson traveled to Virginia, marking the only time he spent as an artist in the South. In a town called Brightwood, he created numerous studies of rural landscapes and "folk types," including this scene of two brothers sharing a wooden bench. Their blue overalls and white shirts are almost identical; one boy wears a straw hat, the other a bib cap.

Title
Brothers
Artist
Date
1934
On View
Not on view.
Dimensions
38 x 30 in. (96.5 x 76.3 cm)
Credit Line

Smithsonian American Art Museum

Gift of the Harmon Foundation

Mediums
Mediums Description
oil on canvas
Classifications
Keywords
  • Ethnic – African-American
  • Figure group – family – siblings
  • Children
  • Dress – accessory – hat
  • Landscape
  • Object – furniture – bench
  • Architecture Exterior – detail – fence
Object Number
1967.57.29
Palette
Linked Open Data
Linked Open Data URI

More from artist

More Artworks from the Collection

1936-37
oil on canvas
1984
oil on canvas
ca. 1925-1927
oil on canvas