Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Wise Like That

Artist:
Whitfield Lovell (American, born 1959)
Date:
2000
Medium:
Charcoal on wood panel with iron hinge, nails, screws and found metal and wood objects
Dimensions:
45 x 23 1/2 x 10 in. (114.3 x 59.7 x 25.4 cm)
Classification:
Sculpture
Credit Line:
Purchase, Gift of the Glickstein Foundation, by exchange, 2001
Accession Number:
2001.83a-c
Not on view
Beginning in the mid-1990s Lovell constructed a number of tableaus -- individual wall hangings, like this one, as well as entire room installations -- that combined portrait drawings on wooden boards with assorted found objects that were hung or assembled nearby. Basing the portraits on late nineteenth to early twentieth century studio photographs collected at flea markets and found in photographic archives, he conveys the dignity of ordinary people dressed in their Sunday best. By adding objects that symbolize their personal belongings, occupations, or living conditions, the artist invents a story about their daily lives and retrieves them from anonymity. Like the objects, Lovell's titles add another layer of meaning, but remain ambiguous. Here the title is appropriated from an old Southern blues song that repeats the refrain "Wise like that, wise like that I mean / And everyday has brought me somthin' I ain't never seen."
Inscription: (on verso, U.L.): Whitfield Lovell / "Wise Like That" / 2000
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Provocative Visions: Race and Identity–Selections from the Permanent Collection," August 19, 2008–March 22, 2009, no catalogue.

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