Untitled self-portrait

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    Photo: Stephen Pitkin/Pitkin Studio
Unfired clay, artificial hair, glass marbles, paint
8.25 x 4.5 x 6.5 inches
Collection of
National Gallery of Art
Museum purchase and gift of the Souls Grown Deep Foundation

James "Son" Thomas's self-portrait is another example of the representation of actual people in the artist's oeuvre. In this work, Thomas employs the "gumbo" clay head/bust format developed from years of producing his frequent subject: the human skull. Although Thomas's skulls are eerily powerful and impersonal, they were actually created by sculpting full portrait heads and carving them down. His self-portrait is as sensitive and individualized as his other likenesses. The upraised eyebrow and distinct facial lines of this piece are unquestionably those of the artist.