"Southern Landscape" by Benny Andrews

Benny Andrews (1930–2006)
Southern Landscape
Oil on canvas
33 x 40 inches
Museum purchase; 1999.026
© Estate of Benny Andrews/
Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY

This painting by Georgia native Benny Andrews illustrates the labors of an African American family in the setting of the old, rural South. Andrews observed scenes such as this while growing up in rural Morgan County, Georgia. From humble beginnings, Benny Andrews has achieved national and international recognition as an artist. He is known for his unique collage compositions, as well as his paintings, drawings, prints, and book illustrations.

In 1965, Andrews traveled through the South, visiting family members and completing research and studies for a project that he called the "Autobiographical Series." This painting is part of the series. Initiated during the height of the Civil Rights movement, the series was in part a response to the racial politics of the 1960s New York art market and in part to Andrews's witness of the end of the old plantation landscape. As he traveled with his family through the South that year, Benny witnessed the changes that had occurred during the years of the Civil Rights movement as well as the transitions in the Southern landscape, as it continued to move from its old rural economic base to a new urban base.