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Martin Luther King, Jr.

John Woodrow Wilson, American, 1922 - 2015

Made in United States, North and Central America


Charcoal and charcoal pencil, with erasing and scratching out, on wove paper

Sheet: 38 1/8 x 29 7/16 inches (96.8 x 74.8 cm)

© John Wilson / Licensed by VAGA, New York

Curatorial Department:
Prints, Drawings, and Photographs

Object Location:

Currently not on view

Accession Number:

Credit Line:
125th Anniversary Acquisition. Purchased with funds contributed by the Young Friends of the Philadelphia Museum of Art in honor of the 125th Anniversary of the Museum and in celebration of African American art, 2000

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Additional information:
  • PublicationPhiladelphia Museum of Art Handbook (2014 Edition)

    In the early 1980s John Woodrow Wilson won a commission to create a memorial to Martin Luther King, Jr., for a park in Buffalo, New York. Abandoning the city’s initial concept for a conventional full-figure statue and inspired by his recent explorations of monumental Buddhist, Easter Island, and Olmec sculpture, Wilson produced an eight-foot-tall bronze portrait head of the civil rights leader. The sculpture’s dramatic scale and contemplative expression convey King’s humanity and the universality of his ideals. This study drawing for the commission is a remarkable example of the artist’s empathetic portrayals of people, and the masterful modulations of tones and three-dimensional forms found throughout his work. Shelley Langdale, from Philadelphia Museum of Art: Handbook. Philadelphia: Philadelphia Museum of Art, 2014, p. 389.

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