At Home and Abroad


Whitfield Lovell, At Home and Abroad, 2008. Charcoal on wood and found objects, 65 x 45 x 3 1/2 in. Purchased in honor of the 100th Anniversary of the Muskegon Museum of Art through the Art Acquisition Fund, the 100th Anniversary Art Acquisition Fund, the support of the Alcoa Foundation, and the gift of Dr. Anita Herald. © Whitfield Lovell and DC Moore Gallery, New York

Whitfield Lovell‘s At Home and Abroad depicts three anonymous figures dressed in World War I-era US Army double-breasted wool greatcoats. The red, white, and blue target on the chest of the seated man is a recurring motif in Lovell’s work, as seen in Kin IV (One Last Thrill).

The deceptively simple form of the target in both works portends a harsher reality, one which Lovell has personally experienced (Lovell suffered the loss of his grandfather Eugene Glover, who was killed in a mugging in 1984): “Every target, every bulls-eye . . . holds a personal resonance for me . . . I am rarely thinking of, or reliving those losses . . . but rather using these as symbols for the losses of everyone, the violence we perpetrate upon our fellow human beings, be it physical or verbal, political or psychological. We are always, as a society, throwing darts, aiming bombs and missiles at one another and using people as target practice.”

The target, when paired with the image of these three dignified WWI African American soldiers, becomes charged with racial implications. While joining the patriots to defend freedom abroad, black soldiers were denied human rights in a segregated society at home.

Whitfield Lovell: The Kin Series and Related Works is on view through Jan. 8, 2017.

“Autumn in my Heart Lingers Too Long”


Whitfield Lovell, Kin XLV (Das Lied von der Erde), 2011. Conté on paper and string of pearls, 30 x 23 x 1/8 in. The Phillips Collection, Washington, DC, The Dreier Fund for Acquisitions, 2013 © Whitfield Lovell and DC Moore Gallery, New York

Whitfield Lovell often uses allusive titles for his works that draw references from music, film, and poetry. In this case, his subtitle echoes the name of Gustav Mahler’s 1909 composition Das Lied von der Erde (The Song of the Earth). Mahler’s piece comprises six songs for two voices and an orchestra. In this Kin, Lovell portrays the female figure with tears of pearls streaming down her face, evoking the feeling of sadness captured in Mahler’s second song, “Der Einsame im Herbst” (“The Solitary One in Autumn”).

Der Einsame im Herbst
Herbstnebel wallen bläulich überm See; Vom Reif bezogen stehen alle Gräser; Man meint, ein Künstler habe Staub von Jade Über die feinen Blüten ausgestreut.
Der süße Duft der Blumen ist verfl ogen; Ein kalter Wind beugt ihre Stengel nieder. Bald werden die verwelkten, gold’nen Blätter Der Lotosblüten auf dem Wasser zieh’n.
Mein Herz ist müde. Meine kleine Lampe Erlosch mit Knistern, es gemahnt mich an den Schlaf. Ich komm’ zu dir, traute Ruhestätte! Ja, gib mir Ruh’, ich hab’ Erquickung Not!
Ich weine viel in meinen Einsamkeiten. Der Herbst in meinem Herzen währt zu lange. Sonne der Liebe willst du nie mehr scheinen, Um meine bittern Tränen mild aufzutrocknen?
The Solitary One in Autumn
Autumn fog creeps bluishly over the lake. Every blade of grass stands frosted. As though an artist had jade-dust over the fine flowers strewn.
The sweet fragrance of flower has passed; A cold wind bows their stems low. Soon will the wilted, golden petals of lotus flowers upon the water float.
My heart is tired. My little lamp expires with a crackle, minding me to sleep. I come to you, trusted resting place. Yes, give me rest, I have need of refreshment!
I weep often in my loneliness. Autumn in my heart lingers too long. Sun of love, will you no longer shine to gently dry up my bitter tears?
–from Gustav Mahler, Das Lied von der Erde (The Song of the Earth), 1909