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Sale 1147 Lot 159

Elizabeth Catlett
(African-American; 1915 - 2012)
Black Flag
The original design for "Black Flag" was conceived and executed in cedar in 1970 and is illustrated at p. 21 in the Neuberger Museum Catalog by Lucinda Gedeon, Elizabeth Catlett Sculpture, a Fifty Year retrospective.

The casting was executed later at the artist's request.

Provenance: Private Collection, Mexico City.

Born in Washington D.C., Elizabeth Catlett grew to be an artist best known for her politically charged, black expressionistic sculptures and prints. She attended Howard University where she studied design, printmaking and drawing. In 1940, Catlett became the first student to receive an M.F.A. in sculpture at the University of Iowa School of Art and Art History. Grant Wood instilled in her the idea of working with subjects that she, the artist, knew best. She was inspired to create Mother and Child in 1939 for her thesis. This limestone sculpture won first prize in its category at the American Negro Exposition in Chicago, 1940.
From there, she studied ceramics at the Art Institute of Chicago, 1941; lithography at the Art Students League of New York, 1942-43; and with sculptor Ossip Zadkine in New York, 1943. In 1946 Catlett received a Rosenwald Fellowship that allowed her to travel to Mexico City where she studied wood carving with Jose L. Ruiz and ceramic sculpture with Francisco Zuniga. There, she worked with the Taller de Grafica Popular, (People's Graphic Arts Workshop), a group of printmakers dedicated to using their art to promote social change. The TGP inspired her to reach out to the broadest possible audience, which often meant balancing abstraction with figuration. "I learned how you use your art for the service of people, struggling people, to whom only realism is meaningful," she later said of this period.

After settling in Mexico and later becoming a Mexican citizen, she taught sculpture at the National Autonomous University of Mexico in Mexico City until retiring in 1975.
Ms. Catlett was more concerned with the social dimension of her art than its novelty or originality. "I have always wanted my art to service my people - to reflect us, to relate to us, to stimulate us, to make us aware of our potential."

Catlett's work is represented in museums worldwide, including the Museum of Modern Art and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Museum of Modern Art in Mexico City and the National Museum in Prague.

19" x 5" x 4"
Estimate $8,000-12,000

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