Anonymous Flemish Artist
Carved Wood, 26.3 cm.
München, Bayerisches Nationalmuseum.
The Image of the Black in Western Art Research Project and Photo Archive, W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research, Harvard University
An Important Note on Viewing This Piece
This is a post i had queued up for today, and I think it’s a good coincidence it falls on the heels of our discussion about using words like “fleshy” to describe historical nudes, use of words like “normal” in various non-dichotomous cultural contexts, and this adds the intersections of race, and specifically Blackness, to the equation.
The absolutely groundbreaking work of Dr. Carolyn West should be required reading before/during viewing this piece.
Viewers of this artwork will absolutely and undoubtedly be influenced by the stereotypes of Black women as outlined in West’s work: Mammy, Jezebel, Sapphire, and Their Homegirls: Developing an Oppositional Gaze Toward the Images of Black Women.
I definitely recommend reading the linked above article to anyone and everyone viewing the above piece, and everyone who follows this blog. Why we think what we think when we see a work of art is not innocent or impartial-it is shaped by our culture and our environment. People unwilling to confront or unpack their assumptions are choosing to uphold systems that cause immeasurable harm.