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Seated Woman

Elizabeth Catlett, American (active México), 1915–2012
Made in
México, North and Central America
Sculpture, wood
Current Location
On View, Gallery 334
22 1/2 × 13 1/2 × 7 in. (57.2 × 34.3 × 17.8 cm)
Credit Line
Friends Fund Endowment; Gift of Edward J. Costigan in memory of his wife, Sara Guth Costigan, by exchange; The James D. Burke Art Acquisition Fund, Eliza McMillan Trust, Funds given by the Alturas Foundation, and Museum Purchase
© 2020 Catlett Mora Family Trust / Licensed by VAGA at Artists Rights Society (ARS), NY
Object Number
A lustrous finish emphasizes the mahogany wood grain that artist Elizabeth Catlett beautifully incorporated into “Seated Woman.” The figure’s rounded body and firmly placed legs convey confidence and stability. A sense of naturalism merges perfectly with a simplified, abstracted form reminiscent of African masks and Mexican sculpture. Catlett, an African American artist who lived her adult life in Mexico, greatly respected these two artistic traditions. Catlett felt affirmative representations, such as “Seated Woman,” could support social change because they allow underrepresented people to see themselves depicted in art. Female subjects are predominant throughout Catlett’s work. She was moved by “black beauty, not the female nudes of the European artists, but the women of the African wood carvers and the pre Hispanic stone carvers.”
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