Skip Ribbon Commands
Skip to main content
Seattle Art Museum (SAM)

Les Demoiselles d'Alabama: Vestidas

Photo: Nathaniel Willson

Les Demoiselles d'Alabama: Vestidas


Robert Colescott

American, 1925 - 2009

Robert Colescott’s paintings tackle the legacy of the European avant-garde, using irony and acerbic wit to deconstruct art historical narratives. Recasting canonical western paintings with Black subjects as observers, agents, and narrators, he points to a history in need of revision. In this work, Colescott reinvents Pablo Picasso’s celebrated painting Les Demoiselles d’Avignon (1907), which helped usher in the Cubist style. Colescott takes on the double-edged blind spots within the European avant-garde—such as their infatuation with exoticism and ideas of “primitivism”—and he presents Picasso’s appropriation of African art through the critical lens of American history and race relations.
Acrylic on canvas
96 x 92 in. (233.6 x 233.6 cm)
General Acquisition Fund, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Art Acquisition Fund, Margaret E. Fuller Purchase Fund, and Patricia Denny Art Acquisition Fund
Provenance: The artist; [Semaphore Gallery, New York]; purchased from gallery by Hanford Yang, Edison, New Jersey, 1986; sold to Seattle Art Museum, Seattle, Washington, 2016
Photo: Nathaniel Willson
Now on view at the Seattle Art Museum


Exhibition HistoryNew York, New York, Semaphore East Gallery, Les Demoiselles D’Alabama, 1986.

San Jose, California, San Jose Museum of Art, Robert Colescott: A Retrospective, 1975-1986, organized by the Art Museum Association of America, Apr. 5 - May 31, 1987 (Cincinnati, Ohio, Contemporary Arts Center, Sept. 11 - Nov. 7, 1987; Baltimore, Maryland, Baltimore Museum of Art, Jan. 12 - Feb. 28, 1988; Portland, Oregon, Portland Art Museum, Mar. 18 - May 8, 1988; Akron, Ohio, Akron Art Museum, June 18 - Aug. 14, 1988; Norman, Oklahoma, University of Oklahoma, Museum of Art, Sept. 10 - Nov. 5, 1988; Houston, Texas, Contemporary Arts Museum, Dec. 3, 1988 - Jan. 28, 1989; New York, New York, The New Museum, Feb. 25 - Apr. 22, 1989; Seattle, Washington, Seattle Art Museum, May 20 - July 15, 1989). Text by Lowery S. Sims and Mitchell D. Kahan. No cat. no., reproduced pp. 16 and 31, fig. 21.

Kansas City, Missouri, Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, The Lighter Side of Bay Area Figuration, Apr. 7 - June 18, 2000 (San Jose, California, San Jose Museum of Art, Sept. 3 - Oct. 29, 2000). No cat. no., pp. 39, 67, reproduced fig. 48.

Barcelona, Spain, Fundación Caixa Catalunya, El humor y la rabia: cinco pintores contemporáneos de Estados Unidos, Jan. 30 - Apr. 23, 2001. No cat. no., pp. 6, 127, reproduced p. 49.

Seattle, Washington, Seattle Art Museum, Figuring History: Robert Colescott, Kerry James Marshall, Mickalene Thomas, Feb. 15 - May 13, 2018. Text by Catharina Manchanda. No cat. no., p. 35, reproduced pl. 7.

Cincinnati, Ohio, Contemporary Arts Center Cincinnati, Art and Race Matters: The Career of Robert Colescott, Sept. 20, 2019 - Jan. 12, 2020 (Portland, Oregon, Portland Art Museum, Feb. 15 - May 17, 2020). Text by Matthew Weseley and Lowery Stokes Sims. No cat. no., pp. 117, 240, reproduced fig. 23.

Seattle, Washington, Seattle Art Museum, Reverberations: Contemporary Art and Modern Classics, Dec. 22, 2022 - ongoing [on view Dec. 22, 2022 - June 11, 2023].

Seattle Art Museum respectfully acknowledges that we are on Indigenous land, the traditional territories of the Coast Salish people. We honor our ongoing connection to these communities past, present, and future.

Learn more about Equity at SAM