Emma Amos

Emma Amos, 1937-2020, American

from an exhibition at the Philadelphia Art Museum in 2021

 

 

Emma Amos was born in segregated Atlanta, GA.  She was educated in Ohio and in London.

 

Her earliest work as a student in London was abstract. 

 

Returning to New York in the early 1960s, she began exploring what she called “an abstract way of approaching the figure.”  

 

A member of the Spiral, an influential collective of Black artists, and of the anonymous 1980s collective, Guerrila Girls, the artist’s work was purposefully political.  She used vibrant colour and textiles and printmaking. She incorporated abstract forms in her figurative works.

 

 

Emma Amos is in a group of minority artists – women and ethnic minorities – whose work is only now being presented in museums and private galleries.

 

Well known among a small group of her peers, her work was ignored by the majority of museum professionals, galleries, auction houses, and by the collecting public.  An incalculable loss for an artist.  

 

In the event, Emma Amos died before this exhibition was readied for viewing.  At the time of her death many of her paintings were still in her possession.

 

This is a small representation of her work after her abstract period in London.

 

 

Without Feather Boa, 1965, etching. 

Emma Amos, 1937-2020, American. Whitney Museum, NY loan to the Philadelphia Art Museum in 2021

 

 

 

Untitled, 1965, oil on canvas. 

Emma Amos, 1937-2020, American. On exhibit at the Philadelphia Art Museum in 2021

 

 

 

First Avenue Window, 1966, oil on canvas with artist’s frame. 

Emma Amos, 1937-2020, American. Amos Family loan to the Philadelphia Art Museum in 2021

 

 

 

Baby, 1966, oil on canvas.

Emma Amos, 1937-2020, American. Whitney Museum of Art, NY loan to the Philadelphia Art Museum in 2021

 

 

 

 

Seated Figure and Nude, 1966, oil on canvas.

Emma Amos, 1937-2020, American. Private collection  loan to the Philadelphia Art Museum in 2021

 

 

 

 

Godzilla, 1966, oil on canvas.

Emma Amos, 1937-2020, American. Munson-Williams-Proctor Arts Institute, Utica, NY loan to the Philadelphia Art Museum in 2021

 

 

 

 

3 Ladies, 1970, colour etching, printed relief and screenprint.  

Emma Amos, 1937-2020, American. Philadelphia Art Museum.

 

 

 

 

Sandy and Her Husband, 1973, oil on canvas.

Emma Amos, 1937-2020, American. Cleveland Musuem of Art loan to the Philadelphia Art Museum in 2021

 

The artist represented herself in the mirror.

 

 

 

Eva the Babysitter, 1973, oil on canvas. 

Emma Amos, American, 1937-2020. Amos Family loan to Brooklyn Museum in 2018/19

 

 

 

 

India and Afghan, oil on canvas, 1977. 

Emma Amos, 1937-2020, American. Amos Family loan to the Philadelphia Art Museum in 2021

 

 

 

 

Dream Girl with Camisole, lithograph, 1978. 

Emma Amos, 1937-2020, American. Julie Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art, Auburn University, Alabama loan to the Philadelphia Museum of Art in 2021.

 

Instructions on how to construct a ‘dream girl’ which if followed produce both a paper camisole and a female figure.

 

 

 

 

Sand Tan, 1980, etching and aquatint. 

Emma Amos, 1937-2020, American. Library of Congress, Washington DC loan to the Philadelphia Art Museum in 2021

 

 

 

 

To Sit (With Pochoir), 1981, etching and aquatint with stenciled colouring.

Emma Amos, 1937-2020, American. The Philadelphia Art Museum in 2021 who made a note that this was acquired with the proceeds of deaccessioned art in 2021.

 

 

 

 

Red Line Drawing, 1981, hand-made paper made with paper pulp and torn pieces of an etching.  

Emma Amos, 1937-2020, American. National Gallery of Art, Washington DC loan to the Philadelphia Art Museum in 2021

 

 

 

 

Streaks, 1983, acrylic on canvas with handwoven fabric.  

Emma Amos, 1937-2020, American. Private collection on loan to the Philadelphia Art Museum in 2021

 

 

 

 

 

Seated Figure, n.d.,etching and aquatint. 

Emma Amos, 1937-2020, American. Private collection on loan to the Philadelphia Art Museum in 2021

 

 

 

Runners with Cheetah,1983, acrylic on canvas with handwoven fabric.

Emma Amos, 1937-2020, American. Private collection loan to the Philadelphia Art Museum in 2021

 

 

 

 

Take One, 1985-87, stencil on torn and pasted paper. 

Emma Amos, 1937-2020, American. MOMA, NY loan to the Philadelphia Art Museum in 2021

 

A work created for an exhibition called Art Against Apartheid. 

Nude, bound, labelled women draw a parallel between the Jim Crow South and the South African state.

 

 

 

Tumbling After, 1986, acrylic on canvas with handwoven fabric and African fabric borders. 

Emma Amos, 1937-2020, American. Amos Family loan to the Philadelphia Art Museum in 2021

 

Here – the first of her Water Series – the artist synthesized her interests in painting, print-making and weaving.

 

 

 

The Raft, 1986, acrylic on canvas with handwoven fabric and African fabric borders. 

Emma Amos, 1937-2020, American. Private collection loan to the Philadelphia Art Museum in 2021

 

 

 

 

Flying Circus, 1987, acrylic on canvas with handwoven fabric and African fabric borders. 

Emma Amos, 1937-2020, American. Amos Family loan to the Philadelphia Art Museum in 2021

 

This painting – people falling through space – is a riposte to the artist’s paintings of bathers where, she said, she saw that something was missing.

The artist removed the purposeful movement of divers and also the safety net of water. What was missing seem to have been chance and risk.

The free fall was also a response to the cut in social services implemented by Ronald Reagan.

 

 

 

Targets, 1992, acrylic on canvas with handwoven fabric and African fabric borders.

Emma Amos, 1937-2020, American. Amos Family loan to the Philadelphia Art Museum in 2021

 

 

 

 

Equals, 1992, acrylic on linen canvas with African fabric borders. 

Emma Amos, 1937-2020, American. Private collection loan to the Philadelphia Art Museum in 2021

 

A depiction of the long history of the call for equal rights for Black Americans with which the artist identified herself.

 

 

 

Malcom X, Matisse, Morley and Me, 1993, acrylic on canvas with African fabric borders and photo transfer.

Emma Amos, 1937-2020, American. Amos Family loan to the Philadelphia Art Museum in 2021

 

Malcolm Morley was a British Expressionist artist. 

The artist associates herself with the aims and goals of the two artists and of Malcolm X who continues to be widely admired for the evolution of his political ideas and of the increasing discipline and focus of his life.

 

 

 

Tightrope, 1994, acrylic on canvas with African fabric borders and photo transfer.

Emma Amos, 1937-2020, American. Minneapolis Institute of Art loan to the Philadelphia Art Museum in 2021

 

The artist’s representation of her balancing act above a multitude of disembodied eyes, between African American artist, mother, wife, and business woman.  The nude torso on the T-shirt is taken from a painting by Paul Gaugin.

 

 

 

Thank You, Jesus, for Paul Robeson (And for Nicholas Murray’s Photograph, 1926), acrylic on canvas with African fabric borders and photo transfer, 1995.

Emma Amos, 1937-2020, American. Minneapolis Institute of Art loan to the Philadelphia Art Museum in 2021

 

Paul Robeson, 1898-1976, American, was a highly influential singer and activist who was removed from public life for his avowed Communism and his influence. 

The artist includes Nicholas Murray’s photograph as a left border.  It links Robeson to Graeco-Roman models of masculinity.

 

 

 

Your Choice, 1998, acrylic on canvas with African fabric borders. 

Emma Amos, 1937-2020, American. Amos Family loan to the Philadelphia Art Museum in 2021

 

 

 

 

Crown, 2002, carborundum etching with aquatint. 

Emma Amos, 1937-2020, American. National Gallery of Art, Washington DC loan to the Philadelphia Art Museum in 2021

 

 

 

 

All I Know of Wonder, 2008, oil on canvas with African canvas borders.

Emma Amos, 1937-2020, American. Private collection loan to the Philadelphia Art Museum in 2021

 

The artist looking out, unafraid.

Standing between the water and the land; following, as it were, a representative and representation of her creative profession: an ebony sculpture of a man.

In the year of this painting,2008, Emma Amos retired from a 28-year professorship at Rutgers University, NJ.

 

 

 

 

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