Untitled Freedom, c. 1970
Artist: Cliff Joseph
Oil on canvas
19 1/2 x 15 1/2 inches
Signed lower right
Joseph was the co-founder of the 1960’s Black Emergency Cultural Coalition in NY-an artists group involved in creating socially conscious artworks.
“My art is a confrontation. Among the many realities of art expression, this remains the most constant purpose of my aesthetic. It is, of course, a social art, based on my ‘gut’ perceptions of our worldly conditions; but it draws upon each viewer to confront himself in consideration of his role in affecting those conditions.
Joseph revisited the theme of balloons several times in the 1960s-70s. The symbolism of the balloon: it’s inherent, seemingly contradictory characteristics of surface strength and fragility; its potential to rise to great height and the (unknown) appeal to hold it down, paralleled some of the characteristics of the African-American people at the time.