Henry Speller

Speller was an artist as well as an accomplished musician. His drawings reflect a predilection for theme and variation in both his subject matter and his use of pattern, line, and color. Here, he depicts three smiling female figures with varying skin tones, their breasts and genitals exposed. Art historian Lowery Stokes Sims has written, in reference to the sexualized imagery of artist Robert Colescott (1925–2009), “The white female has been displayed and fleshed out in the media, tantalizing, provocative, and yet for the most part has remained socially out of the reach of the black male. It is easy to see how her attainment has been perceived as a way to grasp at power.”

Henry Speller
American, 1903–1997
Glorie Jean and Her Friends, 1987
Marker, wax crayon, and graphite
The Morgan Library & Museum, gift of the Souls Grown Deep Foundation from the William S. Arnett Collection and purchase on the Manley Family Fund; 2018.103