About this artwork
An alumnus of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Ed Clark is best known for his shaped canvases and pioneering approach to painting, in which he exchanged the paintbrush for a broom and, later, rags, rollers, and even his own hands. According to Clark, “The truth is in the physical brushstroke, and the subject of the painting is the paint itself.” Blacklash is the artist’s most direct response to racial conflict in the United States. While living in New York, he created the work in the aftermath of the 1964 protests in Harlem, incited by the murder of 15-year-old James Powell by an off-duty police officer. The title, which combines the words black and backlash, evokes the violence against black people that summer, which is further emphasized by Clark’s broad strokes and splattered paint, as well as the bright red and orange colors. The title also reflects the artist’s own double erasure: he was considered an outsider both by the art establishment, which assumed abstract painting was solely the realm of white painters, and by fellow black artists who strongly advocated for figuration over abstraction in painting.
- Ed Clark
- Oil on canvas
- 92.1 × 122.2 cm (36.1/4 × 48.1/8 in.)
- Restricted gift of Kenneth C. Griffin