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62 of 9,185

John Ahearn, Rigoberto Torres

(American, born 1960)

Ernestine

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Object Details

Artist

John Ahearn, Rigoberto Torres

Date

1992

Medium

Acrylic on plaster

Dimensions

23 1/2 x 18 1/2 x 7 inches (59.7 x 47 x 17.8 cm)

Credit Line

Acquired through the David M. Solinger, Class of 1926, Endowment

Object
Number

96.011

John Ahearn is one of a large number of important artists who attended Cornell University, including(…)

John Ahearn is one of a large number of important artists who attended Cornell University, including Arthur G. Dove, Margaret Bourke-White, Richard Artschwager, and Susan Rothenberg. He was trained as a painter at Cornell, but found himself as a sculptor when he moved to the South Bronx in his twenties. Here, in collaboration with Rigoberto Torres, he opened a storefront studio and began making life-size casts of the people who lived in the area. He met Ernestine, the subject of this work, at a women’s shelter and was particularly impressed with her energy and optimism. The simplicity of the pose, the rough modeling of details, and the thin, quick application of the paint all help express the unpretentious directness and spontaneity of the sitter herself. Small details — the red and blue bracelets, the Nefertiti earrings, the lifted left index finger — add to the energy of the figure, and to the humanity of her remarkably expressive face. (From “A Handbook of the Collection: Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art,” 1998)

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