Web of Life
On View: American Art Galleries, 5th Floor, Beyond Borders and Boundaries, 20th and 21st Centuries
This work is the final design for a twenty-six-foot mural for the Nabrit Science Hall at Texas Southern University. John Biggers described its subject as “the interdependence of living organisms in the balance of nature, and the relationship of all organisms to one another through the long line of evolutionary descent.”
Biggers centered the image on an essential earth mother. Throughout, he paired oppositional references to life and death (winter and summer), male and female (the two nudes), and Africa and America (in vignettes of harvest and sowing). A leading twentieth-century African American painter and muralist, Biggers drew inspiration from the Mexican Mural Renaissance of the 1920s and 1930s. He also infused the composition with the kind of organic, cellular design that was so current in midcentury American art.
Tempera on wood
22 x 92 in. (55.9 x 233.7 cm)
frame: 29 1/4 x 99 1/4 x 2 in. (74.3 x 252.1 x 5.1 cm) (show scale)
Inscribed on verso: "Web of Life / Mural Sketch / Nabrett Science Hall / T.S.U. Houston / John Biggers"
Brooklyn Museum Fund for African American Art and Florence B. and Carl L. Selden Fund
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John Biggers (American, 1924-2001). Web of Life, 1958. Tempera on wood, 22 x 92 in. (55.9 x 233.7 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn Museum Fund for African American Art and Florence B. and Carl L. Selden Fund, 2011.50. © artist or artist's estate (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 2011.50_PS6.jpg)
overall, 2011.50_PS6.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 2011
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