The Collectors Committee of the National Gallery of Art
recently made possible the acquisition of Great America (1994) by Kerry James Marshall (b. 1955)―the Gallerys first painting by the midcareer African American artist―and Knights Heritage (1963), a breakthrough sculpture by Anne Truitt (19212004).
A devoted student of the human figure and the history of art, especially the genres of portraiture and narrative, Marshall draws upon the experience of African Americans like himself to create imposing, contemporary history paintings. In Great America, he re-imagines a boat ride into the haunted tunnel of an amusement park as the Middle Passage of slaves from Africa to the New World.
Truitt was committed to the expressive value of carefully chosen color and to the importance of compositional decisions regarding the division of the rectangle. Both are on full view in Knights Heritage, an important transitional piece in which she still employed a brushy texture to define the paint surface and actual grooves to mark the three divisions but began to break out of the somber tones of her earliest work and embrace glowing color.
The Collectors Committee also made possible the acquisition of a photograph by Idris Khan (b. 1978), The Creation (2009); a lithograph by Art Spiegelman (b. 1948), Lead Pipe Sunday #2 (Derby Dugan) (1997); a drawing by Al Taylor (19481999), Fairly Mean / Mean Fairly (1995); a collage by James Castle (18991977), Untitled (Purse ! Discusses) (1937 or later); and a lithograph by Kurt Schwitters (18871948) and Theo van Doesburg (18831931), Kleine Dada Soirée (Small Dada Evening) (1922/1923).