Head

Media - 1986.92.9 - SAAM-1986.92.9_1 - 10151
Copied Byron Browne, Head, 1938, oil on fiberboard, 1412 in. (35.630.5 cm.), Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Patricia and Phillip Frost, 1986.92.9

Artwork Details

Title
Head
Artist
Date
1938
Dimensions
1412 in. (35.630.5 cm.)
Markings
lower center in black paint: Byron Browne 1938 back upper center in black paint: Byron Browne/1938/Head-/12" x 14"/N.Y.C.
Credit Line
Gift of Patricia and Phillip Frost
Mediums
Mediums Description
oil on fiberboard
Classifications
Keywords
  • Abstract
  • Figure — head
Object Number
1986.92.9

Artwork Description

At first glance, Byron Browne's Head appears frightening, with its menacing mouth and abstracted features. The pastel colors and the figure’s gaze, however, make it less intimidating and perhaps more human. Browne was greatly inspired by nature and felt his artwork should reflect what he saw in spite of his abstract style. The figure in Head also evokes a primitive mask. This type of mask, predominately from Africa, but also from Asia and Pre-Columbian America, was inspirational for a number of abstract artists during the first half of the twentieth century due to its simplified geometric shapes and sometimes brightly colored designs. Browne became interested in primitive masks while studying at the National Academy of Design in the 1920s. His style was also greatly shaped by European abstract artists, particularly Pablo Picasso, whose works reflected the influence of primitive masks as early as 1907.