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Detail: Carrie Mae Weems, Untitled, 1996, printed 2020, inkjet print with sandblasted text on glass in wood frame, Patrons' Permanent Fund, 2020.96.1.1

Canceled—Carrie Mae Weems and The Shaw 54th Regiment Memorial

Collection Conversations

  • Friday, October 7, 2022
  • 12:30 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.
  • West Building, Main Floor - Gallery 66
  • In-person

Join in an engaging 30-minute conversation as we look closely at two works of art in dialogue with each other. We will explore Carrie Mae Weems’s Untitled and Augustus Saint-Gaudens’s The Shaw 54th Regiment Memorial. Created a century apart both works honor and center the African American experience. 

Carrie Mae Weems, Untitled, 1996, printed 2020, 7 inkjet prints with sandblasted text on glass in wood frames, Patrons' Permanent Fund, 2020.96.1.a-g

A white man in military uniform rides a horse in front of a regiment of five rows of Black troops in this sculpture, which is painted entirely in gold. The artist created a shallow, stage-like space with an arched top so the men are sculpted in three dimensions, though they become more compressed as they move back in space. The men and horse face our right in profile in this view. The man on the horse has a pointed, straight nose and a goatee. He wears a cap with a flat top and narrow brim, a knee-length coat, gloves, and knee-high boots with spurs. He holds a thin sword down by the side of the horse with his right hand and holds the reins of the horse with his left. The horse’s head is pulled upward by the short reins, and its mouth is open around the bit. About twenty soldiers are lined up in rows beyond the horse, and they march in unison. They carry blankets rolled atop knapsacks, canteens, and rifles resting on their right shoulders. However, the details of how their uniforms bunch up around their equipment and the way their caps have been molded and fit is unique to each person. Their ages also vary from young and cleanshaven to bearded, older men. Two men carry furled flags near the back, to our left, and a drummer boy plays at the head of the regiment, to our right. All the men look straight ahead, their lips closed. A woman in a billowing robe floats above them under the arched top of the sculpture with her eyes closed. Her left arm is outstretched, and she holds a laurel branch and poppies close to her body with her right arm. An inscription in the upper right corner is created with raised capital letters: “OMNIA RELINQVIT SERVARE REMPVBLICAM.” A longer inscription is carved into the base along the bottom edge of the memorial, also in all caps: “ROBERT GOVLD SHAW KILLED WHILE LEADING THE ASSVLT ON FORT WAGNER JVLY TWENTY THIRD EIGHTEEN HVNDRED AND SIXTY THREE.” The artist’s signature is inscribed In the lower right corner, in smaller letters: “AVGVTVS SAINT GAVDEN M-D-C-C-C-L X X X X V I I I.”

Augustus Saint-Gaudens, The Shaw 54th Regiment Memorial, 1900, patinated plaster, U.S. Department of the Interior, National Park Service, Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site, Cornish, New Hampshire, X.15233