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The Descent of the Serpent

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Symbolism

The Women of Dignity portrays two women with markedly long necks, wide eyes, and large, round heads whose sizes are disproportionate to the size of their body. The painting symbolic as it embodies the unique, non-naturalistic style of representation in African art.

Color explosion

As is common in Moyo’s works, one sees the rich use of different colours – yellow, blue, white, brown, green, orange, and black.

Etching patterns

The patterns were etched as a decorative composition after the painting was done on the canvas.

Connected to culture

Moyo never lost touch with his home and his art was centered on his indigenous Yoruba heritage. The piece seeks to celebrate African women and the pride of womanhood.

Inspired by traditional textiles

The textural patterns all over the painting are inspired by the patterns commonly found on the Yoruba textile.

Women of Dignity, Moyo Ogundipe, 2009

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Mixed media

Polke layers different materials to create this collaged work, including wood, cloth, and paint.

Take a read

Here's another element of the work that draws the eye. This is a framed collage containing a newspaper cutting and a book cover, with the author’s name intentionally hidden.

Printing press

Sigmar Polke takes images from the mass media and prints them onto various elaborate combinations of cloth.

Coffee crate

Over a dull domestic interior, the word Kathreiner, taken from a wooden crate, refers to a well-known brand of malt coffee that was drunk in Germany during the years of the economic miracle.

Upside down

To emphasize his postmodern ideas, Polke savagely criticizes the artistic tradition by inverting his own name.

Polke or Matisse?

Signing as 'Henri Matisse' in the bottom left corner, Polke ironizes in this way on the need for an artwork to be signed in order to guarantee its authenticity and therefore its value.

Kathreiner’s Morgenlatte, Sigmar Polke, 1969–79

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Museum spotlight

The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, comprising the de Young in Golden Gate Park and the Legion of Honor in Lincoln Park, are the largest public arts institution in San Francisco.

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