Here we see Jarrell expanding his aesthetic language, taking his sculptural paintings down off the wall and transforming them into painterly sculptures. The imagery in these works is strongly influenced...
Here we see Jarrell expanding his aesthetic language, taking his sculptural paintings down off the wall and transforming them into painterly sculptures. The imagery in these works is strongly influenced by African heritage and images related to Post Colonialism. When these works appeared in the show Messages to the People at MOCA North Miami, Gean Moreno wrote about them in his review of the show for Art in America, saying, "The shieldlike painting-sculptures from Wadsworth Jarrell’s series “Yeah But, Can You Fight?” (1995) build on the painterly style that he began developing in the 1960s and connect it to the long tradition of black assemblage."
Artist Biography Wadsworth Jarrell (b. 1929, United States) is a painter, sculptor, and co-founder of the Black Arts collective AFRICOBRA. Recent exhibitions include AFRICOBRA: Nation Time, an official collateral exhibition of the 2019 Venice Biennale, and AFRICOBRA: Messages to the People at the Museum of Contemporary Art North Miami, and Soul of a Nation, which originated at the Tate Modern.
Born in Albany, Georgia, Jarrell was raised on a working farm. Inspired by the art in the Saturday Evening Post, he hoped to become an illustrator. He joined the US Army after high school and became the company artist for his unit. After the army, Jarrell moved to Chicago. While working at the International Paint factory, he enrolled in night classes at the Art Institute of Chicago. Initially focused on design and illustration, he switched his attention to fine art after visiting various Chicago art museums. Back in Georgia, blacks had not been allowed inside museums. Seeing masterpieces for the first time in person inspired Jarrell. He enrolled full time at SAIC in 1954, and earned his BA in 1958.
Wadsworth has developed many distinct bodies of work, including sculptures inspired by the African cultural traditions, and a series of paintings dedicated to jazz musicians. A distinctive tool Wadsworth has used in some paintings is a brick laying trowel—something he learned to utilize in 1982, while creating a 300 foot mural at the headquarters of Westinghouse Electric Company. His work is widely collected, and is included in several important institutional collections, including that of the High Museum of Art, the National Museum of Africa American History and Culture, and the Studio Museum in Harlem.