Black

Educator Aimee Dixon on the depth of meaning found in the color black.

Loading

The concept that black is the absence of color is an idea that I've struggled with, because when I think of black, I think of power and warmth and strength.

Play again
Connections Home

URL
Share
Sign Up

New Connections appear every Wednesday. Sign up for a reminder.

Captions On
/
  • Aimee Dixon
    1280852
  • Lady in Gray  |  ca. 1883  |  James McNeill Whistler (American)  |  Watercolor and gouache on dark brown wove paper  |  Rogers Fund, 1906 (06.312)
    4571024
  • Mother and Child  |  1944  |  Elizabeth Catlett (Mexican, born United States)  |  Lithograph  |  Gift of Reba and Dave Williams, 1999 (1999.529.34)
    7981024
  • Autumn Rhythm (Number 30)  |  1950  |  Jackson Pollock (American)  |  Enamel on canvas  |  George A. Hearn Fund, 1957 (57.92)  |  © 2011 Pollock-Krasner Foundation/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
    1280649
  • Final Study of the Monument to Balzac  |  modeled 1897, this bronze cast 1972  |  Auguste Rodin (French)  |  Bronze  |  Gift of Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Foundation, 1984 (1984.364.15)
    6441024
  • Final Study of the Monument to Balzac  |  modeled 1897, this bronze cast 1972  |  Auguste Rodin (French)  |  Bronze  |  Gift of Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Foundation, 1984 (1984.364.15)
    1266948
  • Arrangement in Flesh Colour and Black: Portrait of Théodore Duret  |  1883  |  James McNeill Whistler (American)  |  Oil on canvas  |  Catharine Lorillard Wolfe Collection, Wolfe Fund, 1913 (13.20)
    4821024
  • Black Place II  |  1944  |  Georgia O'Keeffe (American)  |  Oil on canvas  |  Alfred Stieglitz Collection, 1959 (59.204.1)
    12801011
  • A Section of the Constellation Cygnus (August 13, 1885)  |  1885  |  Paul Henry (French) and Prosper Henry (French)  |  Albumen silver print from glass negative  |  Gilman Collection, Purchase, Robert Rosenkranz Gift, 2005 (2005.100.124)
    8321024
  • A Section of the Constellation Cygnus (August 13, 1885)  |  1885  |  Paul Henry (French) and Prosper Henry (French)  |  Albumen silver print from glass negative  |  Gilman Collection, Purchase, Robert Rosenkranz Gift, 2005 (2005.100.124)
    1280792
  • The Flatiron  |  1904  |  Edward Steichen (American, born Luxembourg)  |  Gum bichromate over platinum print  |  Alfred Stieglitz Collection, 1933 (33.43.39)
    8081024
  • Mystery of the Street  |  1928  |  Umbo (Otto Umbehr) (German)  |  Gelatin silver print  |  Ford Motor Company Collection, Gift of Ford Motor Company and John C. Waddell, 1987 (1987.1100.49)  |  © Galerie Rudolf Kicken, Cologne and Phyllis Umbehr, Frankfurt/M.
    8281024
  • From the Back Window, 291  |  1915  |  Alfred Stieglitz (American)  |  Platinum print  |  Alfred Stieglitz Collection, 1949 (49.55.35)
    8101024
  • Day ensemble  |  ca. 1927  |  Gabrielle "Coco" Chanel (French)  |  Silk, wool, metal  |  Purchase, The New-York Historical Society by Exchange Fund, 1984 (1984.28a–c)
    4671024
  • Cocktail ensemble  |  ca. 1967  |  Yves Saint Laurent (French, born Algeria)  |  Black wool bouclé with black silk grosgrain trim  |  Gift of Jane Holzer, 1977 (1977.115.17a, b)
    8181024
  • "Bondage" suit  |  1976  |  Vivienne Westwood (British); Malcolm McLaren (British)  |  Black cotton with metal fittings  |  Purchase, Irene Lewisohn Bequest, 2003 (2004.15a, b)
    8261024
  • Biographies of Lian Po and Lin Xiangru  |  ca. 1095  |  Huang Tingjian (Chinese)  |  Handscroll; ink on paper  |  Bequest of John M. Crawford Jr., 1988 (1989.363.4)
    1280536
  • Fragment from a Qur’an manuscript  |  ca. 1400; Timurid  |  Calligraphy attributed to cUmar Aqtac  |  Central Asia (probably Samarqand)  |  Ink, colors, and gold on paper  |  Anonymous Gift, 1972 (1972.279)
    1280639
  • Street Story Quilt  |  1985  |  Faith Ringgold (American)  |  Oil, felt-tip pen, dyed fabric, and sequins on canvas, sewn to quilted fabric  |  Purchase, Arthur Hoppock Hearn Fund and funds from various donors, 1990 (1990.237a–c)
    1250794
  • Street Story Quilt  |  1985  |  Faith Ringgold (American)  |  Oil, felt-tip pen, dyed fabric, and sequins on canvas, sewn to quilted fabric  |  Purchase, Arthur Hoppock Hearn Fund and funds from various donors, 1990 (1990.237a–c)
    450760
  • Street Story Quilt  |  1985  |  Faith Ringgold (American)  |  Oil, felt-tip pen, dyed fabric, and sequins on canvas, sewn to quilted fabric  |  Purchase, Arthur Hoppock Hearn Fund and funds from various donors, 1990 (1990.237a–c)
    450780
  • Street Story Quilt  |  1985  |  Faith Ringgold (American)  |  Oil, felt-tip pen, dyed fabric, and sequins on canvas, sewn to quilted fabric  |  Purchase, Arthur Hoppock Hearn Fund and funds from various donors, 1990 (1990.237a–c)
    450778
  • The Gulf Stream  |  1899  |  Winslow Homer (American)  |  Oil on canvas  |  Catherine Lorillard Wolfe Collection, Wolfe Fund, 1906 (06.1234)
    1280776
  • The Gulf Stream  |  1899  |  Winslow Homer (American)  |  Oil on canvas  |  Catherine Lorillard Wolfe Collection, Wolfe Fund, 1906 (06.1234)
    1280918
  • African American  |  1998  |  Kara Walker (American)  |  Linocut  |  Gift of The Peter Norton Family Foundation, 1998 (1998.456.3)
    1280976
  • African American  |  1998  |  Kara Walker (American)  |  Linocut  |  Gift of The Peter Norton Family Foundation, 1998 (1998.456.3)
    1280920
  • Black Iris  |  1926  |  Georgia O'Keeffe (American)  |  Oil on canvas  |  Alfred Stieglitz Collection, 1969 (69.278.1)
    8491024
  • "Black" by Aimee Dixon
    1280852
  • My name is Aimee Dixon and I'm a museum educator at The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

  • Black has influenced every aspect of my life from my interests

  • to my own background, to

  • things that I'm attracted to. The concept that black is the absence of color is an idea that I've struggled with, because

  • when I think of black, I think of power and warmth and

  • strength, and often when you see blackness it's

  • what grabs your attention, it exudes confidence, it's full of color and impact.

  • Black is velvet, and it's soothing and it's calming, and when you go to sleep, you turn out the lights, you're in blackness.

  • My grandmother is from Virginia, and I remember spending summers there and walking outside and there's these open spaces, and you look up in the sky and it's like a black-blue.

  • And you see the stars and the heavens. It's such an amazing connection to the universe. Black – it's endless; it's the cosmos.

  • You don't see the stars in New York, but living in New York City, black is around me, especially in the architecture, in the

  • concrete streets. The energy of the black night, thinking of photographs such as

  • Stieglitz's From the Back Window. When the lights come out of that building against that black surface, it shows that energy and spirit that I think many people connect with New York City.

  • The little black dress is the ideal urban costume because of its wearability, but still its elegance. When I was young

  • I would put on black to show that I was fashionable, but my elders would think that it was inappropriate because it usually meant something depressing and dark. But my generation had

  • punk music and hip-hop. Black was being on the edge.

  • We're always looking at black on white. We communicate with writing and I think we often take for granted that calligraphy is considered an art form.

  • It is a medium unto itself that permeates all of our lives.

  • The most important aspect of black to me is the fact that I'm African American, and I grew up in Washington, D.C..

  • So I was surrounded by African Americans, or when I was growing up we were called black Americans, who were mentors to me

  • and leaders that I looked up to. So when I see Faith Ringgold's Street Story Quilt, talking about the black community

  • and its importance to this character and her story, I think of my own story.

  • I also think of Winslow Homer's The Gulf Stream. The power of that black man in the middle of the waters, surrounded by all of these terrible, tragic things potentially coming to him,

  • and yet there's a strength to him. And seeing that figure gives me a sense of pride.

  • I love Kara Walker's work. She makes these beautifully crafted silhouettes that are so powerful that you look at them from afar and you see one image that seems so elegant, and you walk

  • closely up to them and you see something else that tells a story of race, of women, of people of different sexuality. There was a period where a silhouette helped identify ethnicity, and yet everyone in the silhouette was black.

  • The use of black that's soft and beautiful in Georgia O'Keeffe's Black Iris is significant to me in talking about black because she's using paint to create the richness of this variety of black, like

  • I see variety of black in my life.

  • 06.312
    Lady in Gray, ca. 1883, James McNeill Whistler (American), Watercolor and gouache on dark brown wove paper Rogers Fund, 1906 (06.312)
  • 1999.529.34
    Mother and Child, 1944, Elizabeth Catlett (Mexican, born United States), Lithograph Gift of Reba and Dave Williams, 1999 (1999.529.34)
  • 57.92
    Autumn Rhythm (Number 30), 1950, Jackson Pollock (American), Enamel on canvas George A. Hearn Fund, 1957 (57.92) © 2011 Pollock-Krasner Foundation/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
  • 1984.364.15_av1
    Final Study of the Monument to Balzac, modeled 1897, this bronze cast 1972, Auguste Rodin (French), Bronze Gift of Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Foundation, 1984 (1984.364.15)
  • 13.20
    Arrangement in Flesh Colour and Black: Portrait of Théodore Duret, 1883, James McNeill Whistler (American), Oil on canvas Catharine Lorillard Wolfe Collection, Wolfe Fund, 1913 (13.20)
  • 59.204.1
    Black Place II, 1944, Georgia O'Keeffe (American), Oil on canvas Alfred Stieglitz Collection, 1959 (59.204.1)
  • 2005.100.124
    A Section of the Constellation Cygnus (August 13, 1885), 1885, Paul Henry (French) and Prosper Henry (French), Albumen silver print from glass negative Gilman Collection, Purchase, Robert Rosenkranz Gift, 2005 (2005.100.124)
  • 33.43.39
    The Flatiron, 1904, Edward Steichen (American, born Luxembourg), Gum bichromate over platinum print Alfred Stieglitz Collection, 1933 (33.43.39)
  • 1987.1100.49
    Mystery of the Street, 1928, Umbo (Otto Umbehr) (German), Gelatin silver print Ford Motor Company Collection, Gift of Ford Motor Company and John C. Waddell, 1987 (1987.1100.49) © Galerie Rudolf Kicken, Cologne and Phyllis Umbehr, Frankfurt/M.
  • 49.55.35
    From the Back Window, 291, 1915, Alfred Stieglitz (American), Platinum print Alfred Stieglitz Collection, 1949 (49.55.35)
  • 1984.28a-c
    Day ensemble, ca. 1927, Gabrielle "Coco" Chanel (French), Silk, wool, metal Purchase, The New-York Historical Society by Exchange Fund, 1984 (1984.28a–c)
  • 1977.115.17a,b
    Cocktail ensemble, ca. 1967, Yves Saint Laurent (French, born Algeria), Black wool bouclé with black silk grosgrain trim Gift of Jane Holzer, 1977 (1977.115.17a, b)
  • 2004.15a,b
    "Bondage" suit, 1976, Vivienne Westwood (British); Malcolm McLaren (British), Black cotton with metal fittings Purchase, Irene Lewisohn Bequest, 2003 (2004.15a, b)
  • 1989.363.4
    Biographies of Lian Po and Lin Xiangru, ca. 1095, Huang Tingjian (Chinese), Handscroll; ink on paper Bequest of John M. Crawford Jr., 1988 (1989.363.4)
  • 1972.279
    Fragment from a Qur’an manuscript, ca. 1400; Timurid, Calligraphy attributed to cUmar Aqtac, Central Asia (probably Samarqand), Ink, colors, and gold on paper Anonymous Gift, 1972 (1972.279)
  • 1990.237a-c
    Street Story Quilt, 1985, Faith Ringgold (American), Oil, felt-tip pen, dyed fabric, and sequins on canvas, sewn to quilted fabric Purchase, Arthur Hoppock Hearn Fund and funds from various donors, 1990 (1990.237a–c)
  • 06.1234
    The Gulf Stream, 1899, Winslow Homer (American), Oil on canvas Catherine Lorillard Wolfe Collection, Wolfe Fund, 1906 (06.1234)
  • 1998.456.3
    African American, 1998, Kara Walker (American), Linocut Gift of The Peter Norton Family Foundation, 1998 (1998.456.3)
  • 69.278.1
    Black Iris, 1926, Georgia O'Keeffe (American), Oil on canvas Alfred Stieglitz Collection, 1969 (69.278.1)
  • Lady in Gray, ca. 1883, James McNeill Whistler (American), Watercolor and gouache on dark brown wove paper Rogers Fund, 1906 (06.312)
    Mother and Child, 1944, Elizabeth Catlett (Mexican, born United States), Lithograph Gift of Reba and Dave Williams, 1999 (1999.529.34)
    Autumn Rhythm (Number 30), 1950, Jackson Pollock (American), Enamel on canvas George A. Hearn Fund, 1957 (57.92) © 2011 Pollock-Krasner Foundation/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
    Final Study of the Monument to Balzac, modeled 1897, this bronze cast 1972, Auguste Rodin (French), Bronze Gift of Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Foundation, 1984 (1984.364.15)
    Arrangement in Flesh Colour and Black: Portrait of Théodore Duret, 1883, James McNeill Whistler (American), Oil on canvas Catharine Lorillard Wolfe Collection, Wolfe Fund, 1913 (13.20)
    Black Place II, 1944, Georgia O'Keeffe (American), Oil on canvas Alfred Stieglitz Collection, 1959 (59.204.1)
    A Section of the Constellation Cygnus (August 13, 1885), 1885, Paul Henry (French) and Prosper Henry (French), Albumen silver print from glass negative Gilman Collection, Purchase, Robert Rosenkranz Gift, 2005 (2005.100.124)
    The Flatiron, 1904, Edward Steichen (American, born Luxembourg), Gum bichromate over platinum print Alfred Stieglitz Collection, 1933 (33.43.39)
    Mystery of the Street, 1928, Umbo (Otto Umbehr) (German), Gelatin silver print Ford Motor Company Collection, Gift of Ford Motor Company and John C. Waddell, 1987 (1987.1100.49) © Galerie Rudolf Kicken, Cologne and Phyllis Umbehr, Frankfurt/M.
    From the Back Window, 291, 1915, Alfred Stieglitz (American), Platinum print Alfred Stieglitz Collection, 1949 (49.55.35)
    Day ensemble, ca. 1927, Gabrielle "Coco" Chanel (French), Silk, wool, metal Purchase, The New-York Historical Society by Exchange Fund, 1984 (1984.28a–c)
    Cocktail ensemble, ca. 1967, Yves Saint Laurent (French, born Algeria), Black wool bouclé with black silk grosgrain trim Gift of Jane Holzer, 1977 (1977.115.17a, b)
    "Bondage" suit, 1976, Vivienne Westwood (British); Malcolm McLaren (British), Black cotton with metal fittings Purchase, Irene Lewisohn Bequest, 2003 (2004.15a, b)
    Biographies of Lian Po and Lin Xiangru, ca. 1095, Huang Tingjian (Chinese), Handscroll; ink on paper Bequest of John M. Crawford Jr., 1988 (1989.363.4)
    Fragment from a Qur’an manuscript, ca. 1400; Timurid, Calligraphy attributed to cUmar Aqtac, Central Asia (probably Samarqand), Ink, colors, and gold on paper Anonymous Gift, 1972 (1972.279)
    Street Story Quilt, 1985, Faith Ringgold (American), Oil, felt-tip pen, dyed fabric, and sequins on canvas, sewn to quilted fabric Purchase, Arthur Hoppock Hearn Fund and funds from various donors, 1990 (1990.237a–c)
    The Gulf Stream, 1899, Winslow Homer (American), Oil on canvas Catherine Lorillard Wolfe Collection, Wolfe Fund, 1906 (06.1234)
    African American, 1998, Kara Walker (American), Linocut Gift of The Peter Norton Family Foundation, 1998 (1998.456.3)
    Black Iris, 1926, Georgia O'Keeffe (American), Oil on canvas Alfred Stieglitz Collection, 1969 (69.278.1)
    8000–2000 B.C.
    2000–1000 B.C.
    1000 B.C.–1 A.D.
    1–500 A.D.
    500–1000 A.D.
    1000–1400 A.D.
    1400–1600 A.D.
    1600–1800 A.D.
    1800–1900 A.D.
    1900–Present

    Works of art in order of appearance

    Last Updated: August 19, 2013. Not all works of art in the Museum's collection may be on view on a particular day. For the most accurate location information, please check this page on the day of your visit.

    Lady in Gray
    ca. 1883
    James McNeill Whistler (American)
    Watercolor and gouache on dark brown wove paper
    Rogers Fund, 1906 (06.312)
    Not on view
    American Paintings and SculptureFirst and Second Floors
    Mother and Child
    1944
    Elizabeth Catlett (Mexican, born United States)
    Lithograph
    Gift of Reba and Dave Williams, 1999 (1999.529.34)
    Not on view
    Modern and Contemporary ArtSecond Floor
    Autumn Rhythm (Number 30)
    1950
    Jackson Pollock (American)
    Enamel on canvas
    George A. Hearn Fund, 1957 (57.92)
    © 2011 Pollock-Krasner Foundation/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
    On view: Gallery 921
    Modern and Contemporary ArtSecond Floor
    Final Study of the Monument to Balzac
    modeled 1897, this bronze cast 1972
    Auguste Rodin (French)
    Bronze
    Gift of Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Foundation, 1984 (1984.364.15)
    On view: Gallery 800
    European Sculpture and Decorative ArtsFirst Floor
    Arrangement in Flesh Colour and Black: Portrait of Théodore Duret
    1883
    James McNeill Whistler (American)
    Oil on canvas
    Catharine Lorillard Wolfe Collection, Wolfe Fund, 1913 (13.20)
    On view: Gallery 771
    American Paintings and SculptureFirst and Second Floors
    Black Place II
    1944
    Georgia O'Keeffe (American)
    Oil on canvas
    Alfred Stieglitz Collection, 1959 (59.204.1)
    On view: Gallery 910
    Modern and Contemporary ArtSecond Floor
    A Section of the Constellation Cygnus (August 13, 1885)
    1885
    Paul Henry (French) and Prosper Henry (French)
    Albumen silver print from glass negative
    Gilman Collection, Purchase, Robert Rosenkranz Gift, 2005 (2005.100.124)
    Not on view
    PhotographsSecond Floor
    The Flatiron
    1904
    Edward Steichen (American, born Luxembourg)
    Gum bichromate over platinum print
    Alfred Stieglitz Collection, 1933 (33.43.39)
    Not on view
    PhotographsSecond Floor
    Mystery of the Street
    1928
    Umbo (Otto Umbehr) (German)
    Gelatin silver print
    Ford Motor Company Collection, Gift of Ford Motor Company and John C. Waddell, 1987 (1987.1100.49)
    © Galerie Rudolf Kicken, Cologne and Phyllis Umbehr, Frankfurt/M.
    Not on view
    PhotographsSecond Floor
    From the Back Window, 291
    1915
    Alfred Stieglitz (American)
    Platinum print
    Alfred Stieglitz Collection, 1949 (49.55.35)
    Not on view
    PhotographsSecond Floor
    Day ensemble
    ca. 1927
    Gabrielle "Coco" Chanel (French)
    Silk, wool, metal
    Purchase, The New-York Historical Society by Exchange Fund, 1984 (1984.28a–c)
    Not on view
    The Costume InstituteFirst Floor
    Cocktail ensemble
    ca. 1967
    Yves Saint Laurent (French, born Algeria)
    Black wool bouclé with black silk grosgrain trim
    Gift of Jane Holzer, 1977 (1977.115.17a, b)
    Not on view
    The Costume InstituteFirst Floor
    "Bondage" suit
    1976
    Vivienne Westwood (British); Malcolm McLaren (British)
    Black cotton with metal fittings
    Purchase, Irene Lewisohn Bequest, 2003 (2004.15a, b)
    On view: Gallery 999
    The Costume InstituteFirst Floor
    Biographies of Lian Po and Lin Xiangru
    ca. 1095
    Huang Tingjian (Chinese)
    Handscroll; ink on paper
    Bequest of John M. Crawford Jr., 1988 (1989.363.4)
    Not on view
    Asian ArtSecond Floor
    Fragment from a Qur’an manuscript
    ca. 1400; Timurid
    Calligraphy attributed to cUmar Aqtac
    Central Asia (probably Samarqand)
    Ink, colors, and gold on paper
    Anonymous Gift, 1972 (1972.279)
    Not on view
    Islamic ArtSecond Floor
    Street Story Quilt
    1985
    Faith Ringgold (American)
    Oil, felt-tip pen, dyed fabric, and sequins on canvas, sewn to quilted fabric
    Purchase, Arthur Hoppock Hearn Fund and funds from various donors, 1990 (1990.237a–c)
    Not on view
    Modern and Contemporary ArtSecond Floor
    The Gulf Stream
    1899
    Winslow Homer (American)
    Oil on canvas
    Catherine Lorillard Wolfe Collection, Wolfe Fund, 1906 (06.1234)
    On view: Gallery 767
    American Paintings and SculptureFirst and Second Floors
    African American
    1998
    Kara Walker (American)
    Linocut
    Gift of The Peter Norton Family Foundation, 1998 (1998.456.3)
    Not on view
    Modern and Contemporary ArtSecond Floor
    Black Iris
    1926
    Georgia O'Keeffe (American)
    Oil on canvas
    Alfred Stieglitz Collection, 1969 (69.278.1)
    On view: Gallery 910
    Modern and Contemporary ArtSecond Floor

    © 2011 The Metropolitan Museum of Art