IV

Narratives of African American Art and Identity

Charles White

The Prophet, 1975-1976

Lithograph

27" x 36.5"


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The Prophet

During the mid- to late 1970s, Charles White began to move away from his characteristic black-and-white style of social realism toward a more surrealistic approach in his compositions. His new work was infused with intense color, often featured against an undefined background. This interesting combination of color, graphic realism, and sharply defined positive and negative space created a surrealistic effect reminiscent of the work of Hughie Lee-Smith.

The Prophet exemplifies this new approach in White's oeuvre, which features a portrait of a reclining man within a surreal landscape. The horizontal plane occupied by his torso and reinforced by the horizon is diametrically opposed by the vertical structure or column that frames his head. The sepia tones of the man, the horizon, and the column are nicely accented by the strong fuchsia color of the rose, which seems to float amidst the blue sky of the composition.  T. F.

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