HANK WILLIS THOMAS | LIBERATION OF T. O.: I'M NOT GOIN BACK TA' WORK FOR MASSA IN DAT' DARN FIELD (FROM UNBRANDED: REFLECTIONS IN BLACK BY CORPORATE AMERICA)
HANK WILLIS THOMAS
LIBERATION OF T. O.: I'M NOT GOIN BACK TA' WORK FOR MASSA IN DAT' DARN FIELD (FROM UNBRANDED: REFLECTIONS IN BLACK BY CORPORATE AMERICA)
digital print, flush-mounted to aluminum, framed, gallery labels on the reverse, 2003, printed in 2006, no. 5 in an edition of 5; accompanied by a Galerie Anne de Villepoix Certificate of Authenticity, signed and dated '2014' in ink (2)
29¾ by 25¾ in. (75.6 by 65.4 cm.)
This print is in generally excellent condition. The colors remain bright and saturated, with no apparent fading. There is some extremely minor rubbing at the edges and corners as a result of the print's contact with the frame; this is only visible when examining the print unframed. There is a small area of soiling on the reverse of the aluminum mount where it was exposed through an opening in the frame's backing.
On the reverse of the frame are 3 gallery labels: Galerie Anne de Villepoix, Paris; Baudoin Lebon, Paris; and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York.
In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective qualified opinion.
NOTWITHSTANDING THIS REPORT OR ANY DISCUSSIONS CONCERNING CONDITION OF A LOT, ALL LOTS ARE OFFERED AND SOLD "AS IS" IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE CONDITIONS OF SALE PRINTED IN THE CATALOGUE.
For his series Unbranded: Reflections in Black by Corporate America, Hank Willis Thomas sourced print advertisements from 1968 (the year of the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr.) to 2008 (the year President Barack Obama was elected) that either featured African American subjects or targeted black audiences. By appropriating these images and stripping them of contextualizing text and logos, Willis Thomas created wholly new imagery so that viewers would be unable to understand the original intent of the advertisement. Willis Thomas stated that '(he) wanted to track “blackness” in the mind of corporate America over these years and thought that by digitally removing all the text, we could simply look at them as images' (Dis Magazine, 2013).
In the present image, football player Terrell Owens runs from a crowd in a market. Several figures run in his direction, most notably a Caucasian man with his arms outstretched. Removed from the original context of the advertisement, Owens appears to run in determination away from the man’s reaching arms, conjuring connotations of a runaway slave and master.