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Ten adults—men and women, black and white—fight, flee, or die over the twelve-foot span of American People Series #20: Die as an interracial pair of children cowers unnoticed in their midst. While Faith Ringgold was painting this apocalyptic vision in a Manhattan studio in the summer of 1967, civil unrest convulsed black neighborhoods across the United States and protests against the war in Vietnam escalated. Art historian Anne Monahan explores the mural’s orchestrated chaos and its multiform inspirations, from contemporary anxiety about black revolution, through the writings of James Baldwin and Leroi Jones (soon to be Amiri Baraka), to iconic canvases by Pablo Picasso and Jackson Pollock then on view at The Museum of Modern Art.
Each volume in the One on One series is a sustained meditation on a single work from the collection of The Museum of Modern Art. A richly illustrated and lively essay illuminates the subject in detail and situates the work within the artist’s life and career as well as within broader historical contexts. This series is an invaluable guide for exploring and interpreting some of the most beloved artworks in the Museum’s collection. 48pp; 35 illus.