Clementine Hunter: Her Life and Art

Overview

Clementine Hunter (1887--1988) painted every day from the 1930s until several days before her death at age 101. As a cook and domestic servant at Louisiana's Melrose Plantation, she painted on hundreds of objects available around her -- glass snuff bottles, discarded roofing shingles, ironing boards -- as well as on canvas. She produced between five and ten thousand paintings, including her most ambitious work, the African House Murals. Scenes of cotton planting and harvesting, washdays, weddings, baptisms, ...

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Clementine Hunter: Her Life and Art

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Overview

Clementine Hunter (1887--1988) painted every day from the 1930s until several days before her death at age 101. As a cook and domestic servant at Louisiana's Melrose Plantation, she painted on hundreds of objects available around her -- glass snuff bottles, discarded roofing shingles, ironing boards -- as well as on canvas. She produced between five and ten thousand paintings, including her most ambitious work, the African House Murals. Scenes of cotton planting and harvesting, washdays, weddings, baptisms, funerals, Saturday night revelry, and zinnias depict experiences of everyday plantation life along the Cane River. More than a personal record of Hunter's life, her paintings also reflect the social, material, and cultural aspects of the area's larger African American community. Drawing on archival research, interviews, personal files, and a close relationship with the artist, Art Shiver and Tom Whitehead offer the first comprehensive biography of this self-taught painter, who attracted the attention of the world. Shiver and Whitehead trace Hunter's childhood, her encounters at Melrose with artists and writers, such as Alberta Kinsey and Lyle Saxon, and the role played by eccentric François Mignon, who encouraged and promoted her art. The authors include rare paintings and photographs to illustrate Hunter's creative process and discuss the evolution of her style. The book also highlights Hunter's impact on the modern art world and provides insight into a decades-long forgery operation that Tom Whitehead helped uncover. This recent attention reinforced the uniqueness of Hunter's art and confirmed her place in the international art community, which continues to be inspired by the life and work of Clementine Hunter.

LSU Press

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780807148785
  • Publisher: Louisiana State University Press
  • Publication date: 9/17/2012
  • Pages: 236
  • Sales rank: 620,122
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Art Shiver was introduced to Clementine Hunter by Tom Whitehead in the early 1970s. Following a career in television broadcast news and station management, he continues to write on subjects ranging from poetry to technology.

Tom Whitehead was a personal friend of Clementine Hunter and has written and spoken widely on the artist. He and Art Shiver coedited Clementine Hunter: The African House Murals. A professor emeritus of journalism at Northwestern State University in Natchitoches, Louisiana, he now serves that university’s president as a consultant on special projects.

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Table of Contents

Foreword Lee Kogan ix

Preface xvii

Introduction 1

1 A Moment of Recognition: May 17, 1985 5

2 From the Cotton Fields to the Big House 12

3 Memory and a Sense of Place 22

4 The Remarkable and Enigmatic Mr. Mignon 33

5 Mr. Pipes and the Artist 46

6 Becoming an Artist 57

7 The African House Murals 68

8 A Lifetime Told in Art 76

9 Friends, Supporters, and Patrons 97

10 New Year's Day, 1988 114

11 Fakes, Forgeries, and the FBI 120

Appendix: The Evolution of Hunter's Signature 129

Notes 133

Bibliography 141

Index 145

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