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Study for Monumental Head

Study for the Sculpture "Eternal Presence"

Artist John Wilson (American, 1922–2015)


Framed: 102.9 x 94.6 cm (40 1/2 x 37 1/4 in.) Sheet: 97.1 x 88.9 cm (38 1/4 x 35 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique

Black crayon

Not On View


Americas, Contemporary Art, Prints and Drawings



This drawing stands near the beginning of a fifteen-year project culminating in Wilson’s monumental bronze head Eternal Presence, a sculpture commissioned in 1982 for the grounds of the Museum of the National Center of Afro-American Artists in Roxbury, and unveiled in 1987. Wilson was inspired by the gravity of Buddhist sculpture, and the powerful presence of the Olmec heads of ancient Central America, giant stone carvings that rose directly out of the ground. In a 1995 interview he recalled, “I wanted it to have the kind of universality that Rembrandt has, that Piero della Francesca has. [But] it had to be a black head. It was my answer to all the omissions, the things I did not see in the Boston Museum of Fine Arts. I wanted to make a black image that you could not ignore.”


In black crayon, l.r.: Wilson 1972


1997, sold by the artist to the MFA. (Accession Date: June 25, 1997)

Credit Line

Richard Florsheim Art Fund and Anonymous Gift


© VAGA, New York, NY