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Web of Life

John Biggers

American Art

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.
MEDIUM Tempera on wood
DATES 1958
DIMENSIONS 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)
INSCRIPTIONS Inscribed on verso: "Web of Life / Mural Sketch / Nabrett Science Hall / T.S.U. Houston / John Biggers"
CREDIT LINE Brooklyn Museum Fund for African American Art and Florence B. and Carl L. Selden Fund
MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
CAPTION 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)
IMAGE overall, 2011.50_PS6.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 2011
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RIGHTS STATEMENT © artist or artist's estate
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