Human Interest

Solo en Inglès

This audio guide highlights selected works in Human Interest: Portraits from the Whitney’s Collection, with commentary by students from PS 33 Chelsea Prep and Whitney Museum educator Melanie Adsit.

Charles Henry Alston (1907-1977), The Family, 1955. Oil on canvas, 48 3/16 × 35 13/16in.

(122.4 × 91 cm). Whitney Museum of American Art; Purchase, with funds from the

Artists and Students Assistance Fund 55.47

Narrator: Charles Henry Alston lived in Harlem in the mid-1900s. He often focused on his community. Here, he’s pictured a couple of parents with their two children.

He created the image using a combination of big shapes and very skinny lines, almost like a drawing on top of an abstract painting. Instead of just using paintbrushes, he chose to apply the paint with palette knives—a tool shaped a like a spatula—giving the piece a blocky feel.

Who do you think these people were? It’s kind of hard to tell, isn’t it? Their faces are pretty abstract, and their expressions are hard to make out. Alston wasn’t so focused on the individuals here. He was more interested in the idea of a family, and the feeling of stability and love that comes with it. As you look at the painting, see if you can find ways that he made the family members appear connected to each other.