Backdrops Circa 1940s

Backdrops Circa 1940s


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Photoscreenprint on two pieces of felt

Support: Two pieces of felt

Left: 66.2 x 42.7 x 0.4 cm (26 1/16 x 16 13/16 x 3/16 in.); Right: 66.1 x 42.7 x 0.4 cm (26 x 16 13/16 x 3/16 in.)

Dr. Gerard and Phyllis Seltzer Fund 1998.186.b

Edition: 35 plus 10 artist's proofs



In this work, Lorna Simpson confronts the historical fact that African American women were rarely glamorized in Hollywood productions of the 1940s; their role in films was most often limited to that of household servant. The left panel depicts a melancholy African American woman in a white dress posing amid a fake moon and stars. The blurriness and muted contrasts achieved by printing on felt render the woman's skin, hair, and dress almost indistinguishable from the contrasts of the stage set. On the right a detail of singer Lena Horne is barely recognizable because the edges of the support sever her face and body. The illegibility and near invisibility of the women in each image aligns with Simpson's exploration of the marginalization of black women in American culture.

See also
PR - Screenprint
Type of artwork: 

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