Composition with Registration Marks and Other Marks
Composition with Registration Marks and Other Marks, 2017
Five-plate aquatint etching
31.75 x 24.5 inches
Ruane Center for the Humanities, Lower Level
About the Work
Sebastian Black is inspired by the avant-garde art that came before him. He identifies the motifs of early 20th century art movements, and then explores what exactly makes them unique and era specific. Black often combines figuration and abstraction, similar to the style prominent in painting of the Harlem Renaissance, a 1920s and ’30s cultural movement in New York, defined by African-American experimental production in literature, poetry, jazz, and visual art. Riffing off the glowing color palettes and kinetic compositions of Black modern artists like Aaron Douglas and Archibald Motley, Composition with Registration Marks and Other Marks is almost wholly abstract. Close looking, however, reveals figural fragments. A hand and an eye become legible. One can also see, perhaps, a few noses, pairs of lips and ears, innumerable swinging arms and legs. Is that a hatted head over there? A whirling skirt right off to the right? Ultimately, viewers may ask themselves, is this work a complex design of twisted shapes and dynamic colors? Or is it a lively scene of bodies dancing the Lindy Hop under mood-lighting in Jazz Age New York?