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Untitled (diptych from Afro Muses series)

Chris Ofili (b. 1968—) Untitled (diptych from Afro Muses series), 1995-2005 Conte crayon on butcher paper 72 × 48 in. The Studio Museum in Harlem; gift of Anne Ehrenkranz in honor of Nancy L. Lane 2006.22.1

In “Afro Muses,” a series of 181 small-scale watercolors produced over a decade, Chris Ofili paints familiar faces, capturing the essence of people who seem to step out of popular culture, art history, or a family gathering. Here, a black couple sports Afros and coordinated outfits. By using amorphous lines, asymmetrical patterns, stylized features, and luminous colors, Ofili interrogates mainstream definitions of beauty in art history—which are often associated with the white body—and incorporates his own figures into this visual narrative.

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