Martin Luther King, Jr.

Various artists/makers

Not on view

Working across mediums and formats, Wilson sought to portray the humanity of his subjects and promote social justice. Here, Wilson depicts the American civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. at a more intimate angle than he was often shown in photographs. Wilson directs attention to King’s facial features, in particular, his deep, penetrating eyes. The artist emphasized King’s outline against a spare background, creating a halo effect that contrasts with his humble pose. A horizontal line divides the composition and, working in tandem with the vertical line that runs down the center of his body, produces the form of a cross, evoking both King’s work as a minister and addressing his assassination. Wilson created numerous works that depicted King, including a bronze bust commissioned for the U.S. Capitol.

Martin Luther King, Jr., John Wilson (American, Roxbury, Massachusetts 1922–2015 Brookline, Massachusetts), Etching and aquatint on chine collé

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