Artwork of the Week: February 7, 2021
Ernie Barnes (1938-2009), In the Beginning, c.1970, acrylic on cotton canvas, 18 x 24 inches. Brigham Young University Museum of Art, purchased with funds provided by Curtis Atkisson, 2020.
In Honor of Black History Month
African American artist Ernie Barnes was a professional football player before he turned to painting full time. Known for his elongated figures with closed eyes, his images capture scenes of daily life in America, particularly in the South. He has been heralded as “the most expressive painter of sports since George Bellows.” In the Beginning is one of the artist’s best-known paintings and an iconic basketball image. In a rural country yard, a tall, lanky adolescent throws a ball toward the make-shift hoop, dedicated to practicing his skills. Ernie Barnes framed his early paintings with the distressed wood from a weathered picket fence in honor of his late father – inspired by the fenced backyard of his childhood home in Durham, NC.
This painting is a recent acquisition and is currently undergoing conservation in preparation for exhibition.