I've Been 'Buked and I've Been Scorned
113.4 x 89.8 cm (44 5/8 x 35 3/8 in.)
(Chicago, Illinois, 1918 - 1979, Los Angeles, California)
North America, American
Medium and Support:
Compressed and vine charcoal with carbon pencil and charcoal wash splatter over traces of graphite pencil
Blanton Museum of Art, The University of Texas at Austin, Gift of Susan G. and Edmund W. Gordon to the units of Black Studies and the Blanton Museum of Art at The University of Texas at Austin, 2014
Dedicated to the human form, White depicted single figures with extraordinary nuance. Here, the artist makes painstaking use of fine lines to capture an extraordinary range textures in the hair, fabric, and wood in the composition.
Women play a central role in White’s paintings and drawings of the 1950s. Raised by a single mother and nurtured by his grandmother and aunts in the South, White reflected his upbringing in his depictions of strong women. He was also inspired by the radical black feminist politics that surrounded him.
"I’ve Been ‘Buked and I’ve Been Scorned" takes its title from a 19th-century African American spiritual of the same name. The song lyricizes the pain and suffering endured by enslaved people. Presenting an intimidating maternal figure standing in her doorway, White underscores the strength not only of this particular woman but also of strong black grandmothers over generations.