The Card Players

Hale Woodruff American

On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 900

Woodruff lived and worked in Paris from 1926 to 1930 with support from the Harmon Foundation, a Chicago-based organization which promoted aspiring Black American artists. The Card Players dynamically synthesizes the wide range of sources he encountered during this period, including Cubism, West and Central African art, and paintings by Paul Cézanne (1839–1906). Two figures with heads resembling Fang-Betsi sculptures play cards at a table in emulation of Cézanne’s famed series on the same theme. Angular forms pervade the composition, many of them accentuated with thick outlines akin to carved wood. Upon his return to the United States, Woodruff became a prolific printmaker and muralist whose work examined and celebrated Black American culture and history.

The Card Players, Hale Woodruff (American, 1900–1980), Oil on canvas

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