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Image of Figures Walking

Jimmy Lee Sudduth (aka Jimmie Lee Sudduth)
American, 1910–2007
Jimmy Lee Sudduth (aka Jimmie Lee Sudduth)
American, 1910–2007

Figures Walking


Object Type: Painting
Creation Place: North America, American, Alabama
15 in. x 27 1/2 in. (38.1 cm x 69.85 cm)
Medium and Support: Earth pigments on plywood
Accession Number: 2004.0016.0002

Credit Line: Gift of Helen and Robert Cargo

Jimmy Lee Sudduth was one of a group of artists whose creativity expanded the boundaries of what was once considered mainstream art in the twentieth century. These artists, now usually categorized as self-taught, have attracted an enthusiastic audience of collectors and admirers who appreciate the strength and heartfelt sincerity of their productions. Both the artists and collectors are passionate advocates of basic human values and emotions, expressed in an astounding array of media and subject matter. Work like Sudduth’s was once considered merely odd or eccentric; now it is cherished for its originality, its joyous spirit, and its evocation of ways of life in the rural South.

"Figures Walking" is an unusual and complex subject that conveys the ambiguity in some of Sudduth’s paintings. The qualities of the clay—its colors and rough, grainy texture—add a sense of warmth and tangible atmosphere. It is hard to decipher the characteristics of the figures—they could be young or old, male or female. The space is similarly illegible; the figures appear to stroll through a void. Their uniform clothing and pointing gestures look meaningful, but resist specific interpretation. This very ambiguity adds to the appeal of the painting, implying a sense of mystery and magic.

American Paintings from the Montgomery Mueum of Fine Arts, cat. no. 85. p. 202.

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