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George Tooker
American, 1920 - 2011

Supper, 1963
American Painting
Tempera on board
20 in. x 23 7/8in. (50.8 cm x 60.96 cm), without frame

Marion Stratton Gould Fund,  2007.19

Not currently on view  

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About the Object

"Supper" compresses within a small space some of the most expansive narratives of human history. Motivated by the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., George Tooker chose the New Testament story of the supper at Emmaus to draw attention  to messages about hope and rebirth embodied in the Civil Rights movement.  

In the Book of Luke, Jesus appeared as a stranger to two apostles after the Crucifixion.  He  “took bread, and blessed it, and broke and gave to them. And their eyes were opened, and they knew him; and he vanished out of their sight.”  Depicting Jesus as an African American man was a bold and prophetic statement to make in 1963, a year marked by boycotts, the killing of activist Medgar Evers, and the bombing of a church in Birmingham, Alabama that killed four young girls.  Tooker has reinterpreted a subject painted by Caravaggio, Rembrandt, and Velazquez, and given it fresh meaning seen through the lens of 20th century events.  

[Gallery label text, 2008]

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