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Black Revue from the portfolio Boston Massacre

Photo by Peter Paul Geoffrion

Black Revue from the portfolio Boston Massacre

Artist: Larry Rivers (American, 1923–2002)
Culture: American
Date: 1970
Medium: Screenprint with embossing and collage on paper
Image (and Sheet): 19 1/4 x 27 1/2 inches (48.9 x 69.9 cm)
Mat: 29 x 37 inches (73.7 x 94 cm)
State: 103
Edition: 150
Classification: Print
Credit Line: Gift of C.N.L. Properties
Label Text:Recognized as the “Godfather of Pop Art,” Larry Rivers often infused Pop elements into his many depictions of historical world events. This series is based on the Boston Massacre, a 1770 conflict in which British army soldiers fired muskets into a crowd of American colonists, killing five civilians. The prints’ bold, neon highlights and backgrounds contrast greatly with their violent content, creating incongruous imagery. Produced on the event’s bicentennial, this series of prints connects a seminal moment in American history with ongoing struggles for freedom within the United States, including the Civil Rights era and the Vietnam War.

Black Revue associates the events of the Boston Massacre with the attempted murder of Civil Rights activist James Meredith in 1966. Meredith, the first black student to desegregate the University of Mississippi, was shot on the second day of a solo march to support black voter registration in the South. On the left, Rivers juxtaposes a depiction of the Boston Massacre with a newspaper clipping and image of the wounded Meredith. On the right, the artist includes the figure of a British soldier and the face of an unidentified man. Underneath, Rivers writes “FOR CRISPUS A.,” a reference to Crispus Attucks, a black colonist and the first person killed in the Massacre. In this way, the artist draws a direct link between Attucks and Meredith and traces a legacy of violence in American history, one still exceedingly relevant today.

Object number: 1979.36.8