Renée Cox, American, born 1960
Baby Back, from the American Family Series, 2001
Archival digital “C” print mounted on aluminum
100 x 144 in.
Purchased through the Sondra and Charles Gilman Jr. Foundation Fund and the Fund for Contemporary Photography; 2008.31
Renée Cox, a former advertising and fashion photographer, is deeply aware of the impact that images of race, sex, and beauty have in manipulating the public into buying products and ideologies. Cox uses large-scale photographs of her own nude body to critique stereotypical representations of black womanhood as sexual commodities. In Baby Back, Cox exposes the racist codes embedded in classic Western images of sex and beauty by staging herself in satirical recreations of master paintings such as Le Grande Odalisque by Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres, which features a sensuously reclined nude woman surrounded by exotic fabrics and bejeweled foreign objects. Ingres’s painting emerged from the French art movement of Orientalism, which addressed eighteenth- and nineteenth-century fantasies about North African “harems” populated by reclining odalisques, or titillating female slaves and harem concubines. Cox departs from the exotic trappings of Orientalist paintings in this stark black setting, which is marked only by Western tools of seduction: a yellow Victorian chaise, red patent-leather spike-heeled shoes, a shimmering whip, and a single yellow rose.
Hassan Musa, Sudanese, born 1951
Allegorie a la Banane, 2001
Acrylic on hardboard
47.6 x 39.8 in.
Purchased through the Claire and Richard P. Morse 1953 Fund; 2008.32
John Dixon, Irish, about 1740-1811, after George Stubbs, English, 1724-1806
A Tigress, 1773
Mezzotint on laid paper
Plate: 18 7/8 x 22 7/8 in.; sheet: 19 1/8 x 23 1/8 in.
Purchased through the Julia L. Whittier Fund; 2008.33
A contemporary critic on viewing A Tigress wrote: “without exception it was the finest mezzotint ever engraved,” and the artist Henry Fuseli (1741-1825) noted that “for grandeur this tiger has never been equaled.” The print combined superb artistic skill with the appeal of a subject that inspired “sublime” feelings of fear and awe.
The composition is based on the painting Tigress Lying below Rocks by George Stubbs, of which three versions are known. The subject of the painting was a tiger given to George Spencer, fourth Duke of Marlborough (1738/39-1817) by Lord Clive, Governor of Bengal (1725-1774). The animal joined the owner’s menagerie at Blenheim in 1762 where it was discovered to be, in fact, a tigress. Stubbs’s original painting, still at Blenheim Palace today, was commissioned by the fourth Duke around 1767-68, and exhibited at the Society of Artists in 1769 with the title A Tyger.
Stubbs’s painting was engraved by John Dixon and published in 1772/73 as A Tigress. Another mezzotint was completed in 1798 by John Murphy (1748-about 1807) after the Marlborough painting. Dixon’s copper plate was destroyed by fire at the printers, making it the most highly praised print after Stubbs in its day, with good impressions fetching record prices at auction.
Nicolas Rene Jollain, French, 1732-1804
Belisarius Begging for Alms, 1767
Oil on canvas
50 3/4 x 63 in.
Purchased through the Mrs. Harvey P. Hood W’18 Fund and the Florence and Lansing Porter Moore 1937 Fund; 2008.34
The period from 1760 to 1800 witnessed an extraordinary revival of themes from classical history, combined with a new emphasis on their deeper individual and collective moral significance. These motifs were selected in accordance with the new principle of “moral historicism,” the portrayal of examples of public virtue from the past in order to inspire emulation by present generations. This principle became particularly dominant in late-eighteenth-century French literature and art.
A number of heroes and heroines from antiquity and medieval history fell into this category. In particular, it was the classical tragic figures that caught the artistic imagination during the Age of Enlightenment, such as the great general of the sixth century Belisarius (about 505-565). He especially came to prominence when Jean-François Marmontel (1723-1799) published his popular novel, Bélisaire, a tale of unmerited misfortune and ingratitude set in classical times. It was based on the apocryphal story of the fate of Emperor Justinian’s (about 482-565) foremost military leader. According to this legend, Belisarius, after winning back much of Italy for Justinian, was disgraced on a trumped up charge, blinded, and imprisoned. After several years of incarceration the disgraced general was freed and lived as a beggar along with his family until he was recognized one day by a former officer.
The picture by Nicolas-René Jollain was one of only two representations of Belisarius exhibited at the Paris Salon in the second half of the eighteenth century that depicted the moment when the general was recognized by a former officer. The other was painted by Jacques-Louis David (1748-1825) in 1781. The latter’s Belisarius Begging for Alms constituted the natural sequel to the work of Jollain, who had helped to establish a return to the foundations of classicism. Until recently, Jollain’s painting was known to scholars solely from Denis Diderot’s (1713-1784) eighteenth-century description.
Félix de la Concha, Spanish, born 1962
Four Unified Views through Two Pairs of Train Barriers (Cuatro Vistas Unificadas Por Dos Pares de Agujas), 2005
Oil on linen, four panels
Each panel: 35 7/8 x 29 1/16 in., overall: 35 7/8 x 116 1/4 in.
Purchased through the Robert J. Strasenburgh II 1942 Fund; 2008.35
Nina Katchadourian, American, born 1968
Accent Elimination, 2005
Six televisions, three pedestals, six-channel video (three synchronized programs and three loops), headphones and benches
Installation dimensions variable
Purchased through gifts from the Lathrop Fellows; 2008.36
The Hood Museum of Art has been gradually adding to its collection of new media since its first purchase in this area in 2002. The most recent addition is Accent Elimination by the American artist Nina Katchadourian, who explores issue of identity and belonging in her work. She describes this work, which is viewed on six TV screens, “My foreign-born parents who have lived in the United States for over 40 years both have distinctive but hard-to-place accents that I have never been able to imitate correctly (and have not inherited). Inspired by posters advertising courses in “accent elimination,” I worked with my parents and professional speech improvement coach Sam Chwat intensively for several weeks in order to “neutralize” my parents’ accents and then teach each of them to me. The very existence of these courses points to the complexities of assimilation and self-image, and the tricky maneuvering between the desire to preserve the distinctive marks of one’s culture, on one hand, and to decrease them in order to seem less foreign, on the other.”
Elizabeth King, American, born 1950
Idea for a Mechanical Eye, 1988-90
Cast acrylic, wood, brass
10 1/2 x 2 1/4 x 2 1/4 in. (with stand), diameter of eyeball: 7/8 in.
Purchased through the Virginia and Preston T. Kelsey ’58 Fund; 2008.37
Francois-Joseph Navez, Belgian, 1787-1869
Self Portrait, about 1826
Oil on panel
28 3/4 x 23 1/2 in.
Purchased through the Florence and Lansing Porter Moore 1937 Fund; 2008.38
At age twenty-nine, François-Joseph Navez arrived in Brussels with Jacques-Louis David (1748-1825), with whom he had been working for three years in Paris before the French artist was forced into exile. Once David settled into his new studio in the capital of Belgium, he built up a considerable portrait practice. The two artists became particularly close, and Navez’s work from this time strongly reflected the elder painter’s influence in its technical accomplishment and naturalism. In 1817, with support from David and others, Navez obtained a grant to go to Italy, where he remained for nearly five years. Upon his return to his homeland in 1822, Navez began to incorporate subtle depictions of fabrics in his paintings, recalling the style of Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres (1780-1867) whom he knew and greatly admired in Rome.
The portrait of the artist by himself or herself with some of the tools and objects associated with their profession—palette, brushes, easel, mahlstick, and works of art—may at one level have been little more than a shop sign, but at another it is an expression of the high regard for their art. In the case of Navez’s image, instead of representing himself in the act of painting he holds a drawing tool as though he wanted to emphasize the importance of disegno—Italian for both design and drawing—in all forms of art. In the face of increasing critical reviews, Navez presents himself with a neutral background as well dressed, self-confident, and proud.
Unknown artist; Panama; Kuna Yala (San Blas Islands); Kuna (Cuna)
Mola, mid-20th century
Cotton cloth and thread
15 x 19 in.
Gift of Roger H. Zanes Jr.; 2008.39
Charles Francois Daubigny, French, 1817-1878
Cows under Trees (Vaches sous bois), 1862
Image: 6 1/2 x 7 3/4 in.; sheet: 8 7/8 x 11 1/8 in. (irreg.)
Purchased through the Jean and Adolph Weil Jr. 1935 Fund; 2008.40.1
Pierre Tanje, Dutch, 1706-1761; after Jan Maurits Quinkhard, Dutch, 1688-1772
Portrait of the Artist Pierre Tanje, mid-18th century
Image: 13 7/8 x 10 3/4 in.; sheet: 16 x 11 3/8 in.
Purchased through the Jean and Adolph Weil Jr. 1935 Fund; 2008.40.2
Last Updated: 12/21/09