Charles White: A Retrospective

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Charles White. _General Moses (Harriet Tubman)_. 1965. Ink on paper, 47 × 68" (119.4 × 172.7 cm). Private collection. © The Charles White Archives/ Courtesy of Swann Auction Galleries

Charles White. General Moses (Harriet Tubman). 1965

Charles White. General Moses (Harriet Tubman). 1965. Ink on paper, 47 × 68" (119.4 × 172.7 cm). Private collection. © The Charles White Archives/ Courtesy of Swann Auction Galleries

ESTHER ADLER: Harriet Tubman is the epitome of strength and fierceness and taking on the world. She is in many ways a contemporary figure here. She looks like someone fighting for civil rights in the 60s as much as she looks like someone helping to free the enslaved in the 19th century.

CHARLES WHITE: You have to be humble in the face of the task that you have assumed. You are imparting ideas, these ideas affect people. Here we are in the midst of a tremendous struggle.

ESTHER ADLER: White did not shy away from identifying important female historical figures and showing them as the incredible contributors to history and culture that they were. And that, in many ways, makes him stand out in terms of the history of art. These women aren't his models as much as they are people whose accomplishments he's looking to celebrate.

She is also sitting on this rock formation that is an incredible piece of draftsmanship. When you look at the way the different planes of the rocks have been articulated, the ways in which White is using line and tone and different ways of applying ink to create incredible amounts of texture—it is just remarkable.

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