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Black Monolith II (For Ralph Ellison)

Jack Whitten

Contemporary Art

Black Monolith II is part of a series that pays tribute to influential Black figures in simplified forms inspired by stelae, or commemorative stone monuments, from ancient Crete. Jack Whitten created this version, dedicated to the novelist and literary critic Ralph Ellison, the year of the author’s death. The silhouette-like shadow draws parallels with Ellison’s best-known work, Invisible Man, which Whitten described as portraying “the exact dimensions of being Black in America.”
MEDIUM Acrylic, molasses, copper, salt, coal, ash, chocolate, onion, herbs, rust, eggshell, razor blade on canvas
DATES 1994
DIMENSIONS 58 x 52 in. (147.3 x 132.1 cm)  (show scale)
SIGNATURE Proper right side of canvas/stretcher: "Black Monolith II: For R.W. Ellison April 1994 J. Whitten"
COLLECTIONS Contemporary Art
ACCESSION NUMBER 2014.65
CREDIT LINE William K. Jacobs, Jr. Fund
MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
CAPTION Jack Whitten (American, 1939-2018). Black Monolith II (For Ralph Ellison), 1994. Acrylic, molasses, copper, salt, coal, ash, chocolate, onion, herbs, rust, eggshell, razor blade on canvas, 58 x 52 in. (147.3 x 132.1 cm). Brooklyn Museum, William K. Jacobs, Jr. Fund, 2014.65. © artist or artist's estate (Photo: Image Courtesy of Alexander Gray Associates, CUR.2014.65_Alexander_Gray_Associates_photograph.jpg)
IMAGE overall, CUR.2014.65_Alexander_Gray_Associates_photograph.jpg. Image Courtesy of Alexander Gray Associates, 2014
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RIGHTS STATEMENT © Jack Whitten
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Jack Whitten (American, 1939-2018). <em>Black Monolith II (For Ralph Ellison)</em>, 1994. Acrylic, molasses, copper, salt, coal, ash, chocolate, onion, herbs, rust, eggshell, razor blade on canvas, 58 x 52 in. (147.3 x 132.1 cm). Brooklyn Museum, William K. Jacobs, Jr. Fund, 2014.65. © artist or artist's estate (Photo: Image Courtesy of Alexander Gray Associates, CUR.2014.65_Alexander_Gray_Associates_photograph.jpg)