Wadsworth Jarrell

(American, b. 1929)

Acrylic, metal foil, cotton canvas

Overall: 120.7 x 76.2 cm (47 1/2 x 30 in.)

Severance and Greta Millikin Purchase Fund 2016.268


Fun Fact

Look closely to find the words “African Rhythm; Our Heritage” and “Black Funk; Preserve Our Music” emerging from the musicians’ heads.


Wadsworth Jarrell became internationally known in the early 1970s as a founder and leading figure of AfriCOBRA (African Commune of Bad Relevant Artists). Founded in Chicago in the late 1960s the artist collective was heavily tied to the Black Arts Movement—the aesthetic branch of the Black Power movement of the 1960s and ’70s. This painting shows two jazz musicians exuberantly playing their instruments; their bodies are composed of letters and dots of color, and phrases like African Rhythm Our Heritage and Black Funk emerge from the vibrant composition. With vivid colors, the prominent use of language, the integration of collage elements, and the explicit references to jazz music as fundamental to African American culture, Heritage contains the most crucial aspects of AfriCOBRA’s common aesthetic and moral principles.

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