Jack Wolfe


The Promise of Lincoln
Anderson Gallery
August 19 - October 8, 2019


This Lincoln is meant to be a contemporary presence - to stand in ourtime, one hundred years after the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation, and to witness White America still denying the people of color theirs freedom. And so, this painting is also meant to confront its viewers.

Concerning the development of the painting- at the ouset the Lincoln photographs collected by Stephan Lorant were used to achieve a realistice figure (illusionistic is perhaps a more appropriate word). The Lincoln that appeared, portentious and romantically humane and very familiar was stripped down and in the subsequent work phase a more iconic image developed. The form of the finished painting is the synthesis of these two perspectives.

Wolfe painted “Roxbury Portrait” in 1967. It portrays a group of neighbors near his studio in Boston’s Roxbury neighborhood. A separate panel refers to the Vietnam War-era practice of giving young men who were arrested for petty crimes in the predominantly black neighborhood a choice of “Vietnam or jail.” A second panel depicts a casualty of local violence.

Jack Wolfe