Charles Henry Alston

The Family
1955

On view
Floor 7

Artist
Charles Henry Alston

Title
The Family

Date
1955

Classification
Paintings

Medium
Oil on canvas

Dimensions
Overall: 48 3/16 × 35 13/16 in. (122.4 × 91 cm)


Audio

  • Where We Are, Kids

    Charles Henry Alston, The Family, 1955

    Charles Henry Alston, The Family, 1955

    0:00

    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. 



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