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Audio Guide

Exhibition promotional graphic for "Fictions of Emancipation: Carpeaux Recast" with Carpeaux's sculpture "Why Born Enslaved!"
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Fictions of Emancipation: Carpeaux Recast

530. Introduction: “Fictions of Emancipation: Carpeaux Recast”


Welcome to the exhibition "Fictions of Emancipation: Carpeaux Recast" at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, which examines Western sculpture in relation to the histories of transatlantic slavery, colonialism, and empire.

In this Audio Guide, you will hear the perspectives of contemporary artists on how Carpeaux and other sculptors of his time represented and, in many ways, mischaracterized the idea of freedom in their work. They speak to the many obscured narratives from the 18th and 19th centuries, especially as they relate to the Black experience.

Their discussion begins with one particular artwork: the iconic sculpture called "Why Born Enslaved!" by the French sculptor Jean Baptiste Carpeaux from 1868.

This Audio Guide is more of a conversation than a formal tour, so feel free to explore the exhibition at your own pace.



  1. 530. Introduction: “Fictions of Emancipation: Carpeaux Recast”
  2. 531. Elizabeth Colomba on Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux
  3. 532. Delphine Diallo on Charles Cordier
  4. 533. Elizabeth Colomba on Allegories of Africa
  5. 534. Fabienne Kanor on the Antislavery Medallion and Cologne Bottle
  6. 535. Elizabeth Colomba on Edmonia Lewis
  7. 536. Fabienne Kanor on the French Revolutionary Playing Card
  8. 537. Poet Wendy S. Walters’ “In the Gallery”