Oil on canvas
112.4 x 127.6 cm (44 1/4 x 50 1/4 in.)
© Emma Amos / Licensed by VAGA at Artists Rights Society (ARS), NY
John L. Severance Fund 2018.24
The image of the young woman behind the couple is a self-portrait of Amos titled Flower Sniffer (1966), in the collection of the Brooklyn Museum.
For nearly six decades, Emma Amos has made paintings, prints, and textiles that explore African American identity and culture, often celebrating women’s presence within that heritage. One of Amos’s most significant paintings from the 1970s, Sandy and Her Husband shows the artist’s affinity for color and patterned textiles, which frame the work’s layered narrative. The dancing couple at the center of the painting is joined by Amos herself: the artist inserted her image into the composition by reproducing an earlier self-portrait, Flower Sniffer (1966), which hangs on the wall behind the couple. In this passage she reverts to an earlier painting style in which her figures were less naturalistic. Amos thus asserts her presence within the composition—even engaging the viewer through her direct gaze—yet she is peripheral to the scene, unseen or ignored by the dancers.
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