The frenzied spectacle depicted here evokes the race riots that engulfed the United States in the 1960s. The composition is also reminiscent of Pablo Picasso's Guernica (1937)—the artist's response to the atrocities of the Spanish Civil War—which Ringgold visited regularly at The Museum of Modern Art. Ringgold's decision to present the figures of Die in business attire and fashionable dresses speaks to the hidden racial antagonisms that permeate even the most well-to-do segments of American society. The work was intended not only to address the tense race relations of the moment when it was made but also to express the artist's fear that racial violence would continue to escalate in the future.
Gallery label from 2016.