Skip to main content

Hayward Oubre Self-Portrait

Artist
Hayward Louis Oubre, Jr., 1916 - 14 Jan 2006
Sitter
Hayward Louis Oubre, Jr., 1916 - 14 Jan 2006
Date
1948 (printed in 1993)
Type
Print
Medium
Etching
Dimensions
Sheet: 56.5 x 36.4cm (22 1/4 x 14 5/16")
Mat: 61.8 x 45.7cm (24 5/16 x 18")
Credit Line
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; the Ruth Bowman and Harry Kahn Twentieth-Century American Self-Portrait Collection
Restrictions & Rights
© Estate of Hayward Louis Oubre, Jr.
Object number
S/NPG.2002.309
Culture
Hayward Louis Oubre, Jr.: American\African American
Exhibition Label
“I fought racism with my art,” Hayward Oubre asserted. Light-skinned, Oubre could have “passed” for white, but he proudly refused to do so. When a student in his printmaking class at the University of Iowa made a racist remark about him, he responded with a print of a black man attacking a snake that was meant to represent the white race. In this self-portrait, made in the same class, Oubre stressed the tan tone of his skin by using buff paper and leaving a thin coating of ink on the plate. He exag- gerated the size of his eyes but avoided the gaze of the viewer, perhaps suggesting his alienation. Lines underneath the eyes evoke premature sags and possibly point to the stress of his having lived in segregated campus housing.
After earning an MFA in 1948, Oubre spent his career teaching, and around 1960, he began making wire sculptures that have earned increased recognition in recent years.
“Yo luché contra el racismo con mi arte”, declaró Hayward Oubre. Tenía la piel clara, y podía haber “pasado” por blanco, pero dignamente se negó a hacerlo. Cuando un estudiante de su clase de grabado en la Universidad de Iowa hizo un comen- tario racista sobre él, Oubre respondió con una obra donde mostraba a un hombre negro atacando a una serpiente que representaba a la raza blanca. En este autorretrato, realizado en la misma clase, Oubre acentúa el tono bronceado de su piel con papel beige y dejando una delgada capa de tinta sobre la placa. Exagera el tamaño de los ojos, pero elude la mirada del observador, quizás sugiriendo su aisla- miento. Las líneas debajo de los ojos evocan bolsas prematuras, quizás por la tensión de haber vivido en dormitorios segregados en el campus universitario. Luego de completar una maestría en bellas artes en 1948, Oubre se dedicó a la enseñanza y hacia 1960 comenzó a crear esculturas de alambre que en años recientes han recibido un creciente reconocimiento.
Data Source
National Portrait Gallery
See more items in
National Portrait Gallery Collection
Exhibition
Eye to I: Self-Portraits from 1900 to Today
On View
NPG, West Gallery 240