Ellen Gallagher (American, born in 1965)


213.4 x 182.9 cm (84 x 72 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique

Oil, pencil and paper on canvas

Not On View


Americas, Contemporary Art

Through her emphasis on cultural identity, Ellen Gallagher both incorporates and rejects the minimalist language of art. Lined grade-school paper is glued by the artist onto the canvas, creating a grid pattern. Gallagher enhanced the lines with blue graphite pencil and a thin overlay of oils in a neutral tone. She then used the space to insert her own language of signs, starting at the left and moving to the right, thereby transforming the medium of painting into a form of writing. In this painting the abstract pattern of lines and dots is interrupted by images. Red lips and wide eyeballs refer to the racial stereotypes of the 19th century American minstrel show, in which white actors in blackface impersonated African-American characters.


The artist; with Mario Diacono Gallery, Boston, 1994; to MFA, Boston, December 14, 1994

Credit Line

The Living New England Artist Purchase Fund, created by The Stephen and Sybil Stone Foundation


© Ellen Gallagher