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Untitled, from The Strangest Fruit

21st century
233.68 cm x 139.7 cm (92 in. x 55 in.)

Vincent Valdez (San Antonio, Texas, 1977 - ) Primary

Object Type: painting
Artist Nationality: North America, American
Medium and Support: Oil on canvas
Credit Line: Promised gift of Jeanne and Michael Klein, 2016
Temp ID: PG2016.12

The title of this series of paintings, "The Strangest Fruit," hints at the history that inspired them. In 1939 Billie Holiday recorded “Strange Fruit,” a haunting song about the lynching of African Americans in the United States.

Vincent Valdez painted the series of ten life-size Latino men after extensively researching what he refers to as the “erased” history of the lynchings of Mexican immigrants in Texas in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Valdez isolates his subjects against stark white backdrops and deliberately does not include nooses around their necks. Rather than directly summon difficult images from the past, he depicts this history in the present tense, underscoring the continued persecution and struggles that immigrants and minorities face in the United States today. He explains, “Presenting this historical subject in a contemporary context enables me to present the noose as a metaphor and to suggest that the threat of the noose still looms over the heads of the young Latino males in American society.”

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