Finding Inspiration in a Deck of Cards


Selections from Whitfield Lovell’s Card series. Left to right: Untitled (Card XXXVII), 2005; Untitled (Card XXXVIII), 2005; Untitled (Card LI), 2006; Untitled (Card XXII), 2003; Untitled (Card XLIX), 2006


These five small-scale works on paper are part of Whitfield Lovell’s first Card series, in which he paired an intricately detailed hand drawn face with each of the deck’s 52 rectangular cards. As the artist has noted, the Card series was an important precursor to his Kin series:


Whitfield Lovell’s “Card Series II” on view at National Museum of African American History and Culture

“I had been making these little drawings on tan paper long enough that . . . it was natural to bump up the scale and proceed from there. I just wouldn’t have started the Kin series had I not been working on the Card series for so long. Drawing with that degree of detail is not something I would start doing suddenly overnight.”

After completing his first Card series, the artist embarked on a second Card series, this time with a deck of round playing cards. Concurrent with this exhibition, you may see Lovell’s round Card series as part of the collection of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture.

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