Elizabeth Catlett (American, active in Mexico, born 1915)
Bronze, 16 1/4 x 9 1/2 x 7 3/4 inches
MSU purchase, funded by the Friends of Kresge Art Museum Endowment, Offices of the Vice Graduate Studies and the Dean of the College of Arts and Letters, MSU Development Fund, Blue Care Network/ Health Central, 95.11
Art (c) Elizabeth Catlett / Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY
This is an important example of Elizabeth Catlett's work in terms of subject matter, technique, style and content. Made in 1946, it exhibits her favored subject, the black woman. The title informs us that she is reflective, perhaps somewhat melancholic. She may be tired from her work or situation, but she is not despairing. She possesses an inner strength and determination. Catlett brings her alive with the intensity of her gaze, the strength of her folded arms and the bend of her neck. The bold, essential volumes are executed with a sensitivity of materials and a confidence that characterizes Catlett's work and reveals the importance of technique. Technique, Catlett says, is "the difference between art and ineptitude." Stylistically, in its simplicity of form, Pensive may reveal the general influence of both European modernism and African sculpture but Catlett's use of contrasting rounded and angular lines and fine, concise touches of detail-as in the hair-are hallmarks of her style.