Charles Henry Alston
Untitled (Couple), c. 1945-1950
Oil on canvas
20 x 24 inches
Signed lower right
An accomplished painter, muralist, sculptor, and educator, Alston’s art varied stylistically. He said that he didn’t “like the idea of getting into some kind of a pigeonhole…. I can’t see this business of repeating and repeating and repeating…. The whole creative thing is one of exploration of new or different areas.” Untitled (Couple) combines cubist, abstract, and figurative techniques to capture a brief interlude between a musician and a patron. The setting depicted was likely based on Alston’s experience in one of the dozens of New York jazz cafés, which many artists of the time frequented. Alston had intimate knowledge of jazz and its leading musicians, such as his friend Duke Ellington, during the Harlem Renaissance.