Media - 1977.47.31 - SAAM-1977.47.31_1 - 4960
Copied Charles Searles, Celebration, 1975, acrylic on canvas, 27 1281 34 in. (70.0207.6 cm), Smithsonian American Art Museum, Transfer from the General Services Administration, Art-in-Architecture Program, 1977.47.31

Artwork Details

Not on view
27 1281 34 in. (70.0207.6 cm)
Credit Line
Transfer from the General Services Administration, Art-in-Architecture Program
Mediums Description
acrylic on canvas
  • Study — mural study
  • Landscape — time — sunrise
  • Performing arts — music — drum
  • Recreation — dancing
  • Ceremony — festival
  • African American
Object Number

Artwork Description

In 1974, Searles was invited to paint a mural for the William J. Green Jr. Federal Building in his hometown of Philadelphia. Celebration, a study for that mural, fuses the energy of an American street festival with memories of Searles’s 1972 trip to Nigeria. The canvas is filled with syncopated color, the echoing forms of circular drumheads, and the waving arms of dancers. Searles suggests the duality of the human psyche by dividing the figures vertically into light and dark sections. At the bottom center, he included a child with a masklike face and spiky hair in homage to his young daughter, who died in 1971.

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


Media - 1995.22.1 - SAAM-1995.22.1_1 - 65784
African American Art in the 20th Century
January 18, 2019January 18, 2019
The Smithsonian American Art Museum is home to one of the most significant collections of African American art in the world. Highlights from this collection are traveling to several cities across the United States in the exhibition African American Art in the 20th Century.