Cecilia Vicuña. Black Panther and Me (ii). Bogotá 1978

Cecilia Vicuña Black Panther and Me (ii) Bogotá 1978

  • Not on view

When Vicuña traveled to New York in 1969 to celebrate the translation of her first book of poetry into English, she became fascinated by the recently formed Black Panther Party. In this self-portrait, Vicuña depicted herself alongside a panther, surrounded by a row of Italian cypress trees, plants from her own garden, and a staircase that, according to the artist, “leads to other dimensions.” Vicuña was inspired by sixteenth-century paintings made by locals of Cuzco, Peru, who produced Christian imagery at the direction of Spanish missionaries. She replaced the Christian saints with personal iconography and painted the scene in a deliberately flat style. “For me, painting poorly was a rebellion against the colonial standards that we, the colonized, were expected to submit to,” she explained. “Today we would call it a decolonizing act. Back then, we called it ‘liberation.’”

Gallery label from 2019
Additional text

Black Panther and me, 1978

"I always painted portraits of Claudio until one day I rebelled and decided to do my own self-portrait. But the hair was very big on one side. To balance this, I had to put two other little people-that my brother Ricardo interpreted as "my other me’s"-some little people who are dedicated to satisfy all my desires.

The pill in my hand is The Pill, an object I despise. I take it with a mixture of fury and resignation. I know it’s unhealthy and that if circumstances were perfect, they could’ve created something better, if they cared to. The park where I find myself is a beloved place. The staircase leads to other dimensions. The tree on the left belongs to "the poet's house,” an old drawing of mine. The three plants are part of my Cannabis Sativa garden. The trees at the bottom are Italian Cypress, the trees of my ancestors. The small round tree grows in Bangkok, where I incarnated in an old poem. The Black Panther represents my beloved New York activist party, ready to assail me. I look forward to any of his attacks, because this is
my friend."

Cecilia Vicuña
Santiago, December 1970 - 1978

Medium
Oil on canvas
Dimensions
26 1/2 x 33" (67.3 x 83.8 cm)
Credit
Latin American and Caribbean Fund
Object number
737.2018
Copyright
© Cecilia Vicuña.
Department
Painting and Sculpture

Installation views

How we identified these works

In 2018–19, MoMA collaborated with Google Arts & Culture Lab on a project using machine learning to identify artworks in installation photos. That project has concluded, and works are now being identified by MoMA staff.

If you notice an error, please contact us at [email protected].

Licensing

If you would like to reproduce an image of a work of art in MoMA’s collection, or an image of a MoMA publication or archival material (including installation views, checklists, and press releases), please contact Art Resource (publication in North America) or Scala Archives (publication in all other geographic locations).

MoMA licenses archival audio and select out of copyright film clips from our film collection. At this time, MoMA produced video cannot be licensed by MoMA/Scala. All requests to license archival audio or out of copyright film clips should be addressed to Scala Archives at [email protected]. Motion picture film stills cannot be licensed by MoMA/Scala. For access to motion picture film stills for research purposes, please contact the Film Study Center at [email protected]. For more information about film loans and our Circulating Film and Video Library, please visit https://www.moma.org/research-and-learning/circulating-film.

If you would like to reproduce text from a MoMA publication, please email [email protected]. If you would like to publish text from MoMA’s archival materials, please fill out this permission form and send to [email protected].

Feedback

This record is a work in progress. If you have additional information or spotted an error, please send feedback to [email protected].