Sharecropper

1952, printed in 1970
Elizabeth Catlett (American, 1915–2012)


Catalogue Raisonné

Herzog p.105

Dimensions

Image: 45.1 x 42.5 cm (17 3/4 x 16 3/4 in.) Sheet: 57.1 x 52 cm (22 1/2 x 20 1/2 in.)

Accession Number

2008.92

Medium or Technique

Linoleum cut printed in green, brown and black, with hand additions in white gouache and black ink (and touches of red ink)

Not On View

Collections

Americas, Contemporary Art, Prints and Drawings

Classifications

Prints

Printed by the artist and José Sánchez, Mexico City; Published by the artist and Taller de Gráfica Popular, Mexico City. First printed in 1952(?). Published in 1957 as Cosechadora de algodón in the journal Artes de México. An edition of 60 printed in color in 1970.


Elizabeth Catlett’s linoleum cut print “Sharecropper” (1957, printed in 1970) is an excellent example of Catlett’s bold visual style and her print craftsmanship. The halo created by the brim of the sharecropper’s sun hat, and the upward angle from which the viewer observes her, make the figure seem monumental. The crisp black lines and the rich brown and green inks are accentuated by the bright opaque white watercolor applied by hand along the outline of her chin, on the right side of her neck, and in the corners of her eyes.

In addition to being a visually striking work, “Sharecropper” represents the rich aesthetic exchange that transpired between American and Mexican artists during the twentieth century. Catlett received her M.F.A. in 1940 from the University of Iowa, where she studied under the Regionalist painter Grant Wood. She went to Mexico City in1946, a time when many African American artists went there in search of a creative environment more receptive to artists of color. Catlett became a central figure at the Taller de Gráfica Popular, the most important and experimental printmaking workshop in Mexico. The socially engaged imagery produced at the TGP inspired Catlett to build on what she learned while studying with Wood. “Sharecropper” resonates with the economic circumstances of African American rural laborers as well as with the agrarian reforms that were occurring in Mexico.

Inscription

In block, l.r.: EC; in graphite, l.l.: 20/60 Sharecropper; l.r.: E. Catlett 1970

Provenance

Purchased at auction from Swann Galleries, New York, NY, on February 19, 2008. (Accession Date: March 26, 2008)

Credit Line

Lee M. Friedman Fund