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Willie Cole (American, b.1955)
LOT ID: 62751
House and Field, 1997

Mixed Media
26 х 19 х 10 in. (66.04 x 48.26 x 25.4 cm.)
Unsigned, .
Lot description
House: 26 x 19 x 10 inches
Field: 28 3/4 x 19 x 10 inches

Transforming an ordinary lawn jockey into a provocative symbol of racial commentary is a prominent theme in Cole's art, as represented in this work entitled, "House and Field." These two figures offer a direct remark on the idea of the “house” and “field” slaves as defined by Malcolm X. The figure dressed in traditional African garb represents the “field” slave as compared to the figure dressed in the red and white suit which represents the “house” slave. This separation of these two types of slaves was prominent during the 1960’s, as it commented on the African Americans who desired to maintain contact with their heritage in Africa, the “field” slave, and those that wished to cut all ties from their native country and conform to the society in America, the “house” slave.

American artist Willie Cole is known for his mixed media sculptures that focus on the cultures of West Africa. His ability to turn everyday household objects such as irons and lawn jockeys into expressive sculptures is what separates him from other contemporary sculptors. His upbringing by both his mother and grandmother in the 1960’s created a strong impact on his artwork, for his use of irons in his sculptures is meant to signify the domestic role of African women during this time. His fascination with African art flourished as he continued his education at the School of Visual Arts in New York, where he learned to hone his artistic talents by focusing much of his attention on the culture of the Yoruba society. Recently Cole’s work was exhibited at the Museum of Arts and Design (New York, NY), Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art (Kansas City, MO) and Birmingham Museum of Art (Birmingham, AL).

Selected Public Collections:
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY
Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY
Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, PA
Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond, VA
Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto, Canada
The National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.
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