Untitled (Three Wise Men and a Goat)

  • David Butler, Untitled (Three Wise Men and a Goat), 1965, paint on cut sheet metal, Smithsonian American Art Museum, The Margaret Z. Robson Collection, Gift of John E. and Douglas O. Robson, 2016.38.10

Butler’sembellished home and property manifested practices that, by way of Africa,survived in the Americas. One such Black Atlantic tradition was the yardshow,” a personal place where benevolent spirits are welcomed, evil spirits arerebuffed, and ancestors are honored. Into metal panels of various sizes, Butlerincised silhouetted forms, painted them, and affixed some of them over thewindows of his home. As the sun’s light traveled across the yard, it reachedthrough the cut-out patterns, creating a reverse shadow puppet – like effect. Withinthe house, the illuminated shapes appeared bright against the darkened negativespaces, and a sunlit narrative crawled across the shadowed walls as the daywent on. Butler often depicted Christian themes, but he also reached into hisdreams and imagination, and found the unexpected.

(We Are Made of Stories:Self-Taught Artists in the Robson Family Collection, 2022)

Untitled (Three Wise Men and a Goat)
Not on view
13 34 × 42 18 × 2 18 in. (34.9 × 107.0 × 5.4 cm)
Credit Line

Smithsonian American Art Museum

The Margaret Z. Robson Collection, Gift of John E. and Douglas O. Robson

Mediums Description
paint on cut sheet metal
  • Animal – goat
  • Figure group – male
  • Abstract
Object Number
Linked Open Data
Linked Open Data URI

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