Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Wise Like That

Whitfield Lovell (American, born 1959)
Charcoal on wood panel with iron hinge, nails, screws and found metal and wood objects
45 x 23 1/2 x 10 in. (114.3 x 59.7 x 25.4 cm)
Credit Line:
Purchase, Gift of the Glickstein Foundation, by exchange, 2001
Accession Number:
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.

Related Objects

Muerte Florida

Artist: Whitfield Lovell (American, born 1959) Date: 1992 Medium: Oil stick and charcoal on paper Accession: 1997.11 On view in:Not on view

Standing Woman

Artist: Gaston Lachaise (American (born France) 1882–1935) Date: 1912–15; cast 1930 Medium: Bronze Accession: 1984.433.34 On view in:Gallery 913

The Flesh Eaters

Artist: William Baziotes (American, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 1912–1963 New York, New York) Date: 1952 Medium: Oil and charcoal on canvas Accession: 1995.234 On view in:Gallery 913

White Flag

Artist: Jasper Johns (American, born Augusta, Georgia, 1930) Date: 1955 Medium: Encaustic, oil, newsprint, and charcoal on canvas Accession: 1998.329 On view in:Gallery 924


Artist: John Graham (American (born Ukraine), Kiev 1881–1961 London) Date: ca. 1944 Medium: Oil, casein, charcoal, chalk, graphite, and ink on Masonite Accession: 68.185 On view in:Gallery 913