II

Narratives of African American Art and Identity

Augusta Savage

Gamin, 1929

Bronze

9" x 5.5" x 3.5"


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Gamin

Sculpted in plaster over a weekend, Augusta Savage's bust of a young, attractive, street-smart young man, Gamin, is widely considered her best-known and most successful sculpture. Although Juanita Holland discovered that the identity of Gamin is actually that of Savage's young nephew, Ellis Ford, the image of the savvy youth was immediately related by her New York audience to the images of thousands of other similar young men who roamed the streets of Harlem.

In fact, Gamin was so well received in New York that both the Urban League's Eugene Kinckle Jones and real estate operator John E. Nail agreed to assist in raising funds for Savage to study abroad. After Gamin's debut, Savage received two successive fellowships from the Rosenwald Fund and money for travel expenses, raised by members of the African American community in Harlem and Greenwich Village and by teachers at Florida A&M University. In 1929 Savage used these funds to travel to Paris and enroll in the Académie de la Grande Chaumière, where she studied with portraitists Felix Benneteau-Desgrois and Charles Despiau.

Driskell's Gamin is a later bronze casting of the original plaster sculpture.   T. F.

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