IV

Narratives of African American Art and Identity

Eldzier Cortor

Cuban Souvenir, n.d.

Oil on canvas

8" x 10"


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Cuban Souvenir

The moody interior of Eldzier Cortor's Cuban Souvenir typifies the artist's poetic approach to the black female, a subject that has remained paramount in his work throughout his career. After studying diasporan peoples in the Sea Islands, South Carolina, Haiti, Jamaica, and Cuba, Cortor developed an interest in African customs practiced in New World locations, particularly in relation to black female culture. In Cuban Souvenir Cortor presents an exoticized black woman whose red dress, red lips, rose hair ornament, and fan evoke the stereotypical notion of Latin female sexuality. His use of the sea shell still life in the foreground recalls the close ties of both African and island cultures to the ocean. Set in the tropics or an urban tenement, Cortor's black women remain sensuous, introspective, and self-contained.   A. L. C.

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