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Ellen Gallagher

American, born 1965

Biography

Ellen Gallagher’s minimalist paintings, collages, and films examine the development of African-American stereotypes. The artist Incorporates pop culture ephemera into her work, particularly postwar-era advertisements for hairstyles, wigs, and skin products targeting African-American women. In her "DeLuxe" series (2004–05), Gallagher embellished images of hair-straightening and skin-whitening advertisements from magazines such as Ebony and Sepia. Viewed as intricate abstractions from afar, "DeLuxe" examines formal ideas about materials, seriality, and process alongside its narrative of race. Recurring elements in Gallagher's work include minstrel-like lips, the use of penmanship paper and other found materials applied to canvas, and surfaces transformed to illegibility by methods like smudging, staining, and puncturing.

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