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William Dawson, born Huntsville, AL 1901-died Chicago, IL 1990
William Dawson
William Dawson
ca. 1970 - 1980
Folk Art
painted wood
18 1/4 × 5 1/2 × 2 3/4 in. (46.4 × 14 × 7 cm)
Credit Line
Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Orren and Marilyn Bradley and Kohler Foundation, Inc.
Restrictions & Rights
Usage conditions apply
Object number
Luce Center Label
William Dawson whittled sculptures of men and women using scrap wood found in alleys or on the street in his Chicago neighborhood. Limited only by his imagination, he used bold colors and materials such as chicken bones, glitter, and driftwood to add character to his pieces. In this self-portrait, he shows himself in a turquoise cardigan and blue pants. His brilliant eyes and wide-open mouth give the figure a highly animated effect, enhanced by movable arms attached to the body by nails. Dawson even hand-sewed the leather satchel wrapped around the figure’s waist.
Data Source
Smithsonian American Art Museum
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Smithsonian American Art Museum Collection
Painting and Sculpture
On View
Smithsonian American Art Museum, Luce Foundation Center, 3rd Floor, 27A
Smithsonian American Art Museum, Luce Foundation Center
Smithsonian American Art Museum, Luce Foundation Center, 3rd Floor