As we celebrate Joseph Holston’s ‘Color in Freedom’ don’t miss his other works in our collection
By Daniel Fulco, Ph.D., Agnita M. Stine Schreiber Curator
To mark the opening of the new exhibition Joseph Holston, Color in Freedom: Journey along the Underground Railroad (on view through January 14, 2023), we hope that you enjoy this print in our collection. This work is currently on display in the Small Exhibits Gallery
.Joseph Holston (American, b. 1944)
11 x 14 ¾ in.
Gift of the artist, A3833,03.0300
In boxing, a rope-a-dope is a fighting technique of pretending to be trapped against the ropes and provoking an opponent into throw tiring, ineffective punches. Here, Holston creates an arresting, tense scene in which two fighters engage in a forceful bout. The man on the left dramatically leans against the ropes, gloves raised to deflect his rival’s blows. The boxers’ close proximity, their driving energy and motions, and the intensity of their exchange is heightened by the ring’s ropes (shown in rectangular bands of varying shades) that appear to envelop them.
Like many of the prints on view in Joseph Holston, Color in Freedom: Journey along the Underground Railroad, this etching was produced as an alternative interpretation of an oil painting (see below). In contrast to the painting’s vibrant colors, this print explores numerous variations in light and dark (a technique often employed by Holston), and, due to the printing process, features an inverted figural arrangement. In creating both works, Holston was inspired by a lifelong interest in boxing, a sport in which he participated as a teenager and still follows.
Influenced by Jacob Lawrence (1917–2000) and Pablo Picasso (1881–1973), Joseph Holston’s abstract style is grounded in bold colors and flat shapes that reduce subjects to their basic form. His themes are inspired by music, African American history and daily life, and cultural heritage. Born in Washington, D.C., Holston has enjoyed a forty-year career as both a painter and printmaker. He received training from the notable portraitist Marcos Blahove (1908–2012) and the Santa Fe, New Mexico-based painter Richard Vernon Goetz (1915–91). Holston also studied art at Howard University, Washington, and Montgomery College (Maryland).
If you visit the museum, be sure to see the Color in Freedom exhibition, which explores the journeys and challenges of those who traveled along the Underground Railroad.
To learn more about Holston and his art, click here: https://holstonart.com/
This WeekendArt is sponsored by Dr. & Mrs. Robert S. Strauch