Black marble on a wooden base, circa 1994. 345x190x102 mm; 14x7 1/2x4 1/4 inches high (not including the base). Incised with the artist's initials, left leg rear edge.
Provenance: private collection, Georgia.
Illustrated; (another example) Lucinda H. Gedeon. Elizabeth Catlett Sculpture: A Fifty-Year Retrospective, Neuberger Museum of Art, p. 98.
An impressive late-career work in luminous black marble, Nude Torso is an iconic work by Elizabeth Catlett - one of her most recognizable forms that typifies her representation of women. This beautiful and highly polished black marble embodies Catlett's extensive mid- to late body of work - her later figures are more simplified and abstract, with distinctively strong forms and poses.
In Nude Torso, Catlett transforms the traditional contrapposto pose of classical nudes to now convey the confidence of a strong, modern woman. Catlett creates a perfect balance in describing a curvaceous figure that is as powerful as it is sensuous. In Melanie Herzog's Elizabeth Catlett An American Artist in Mexico, Catlett describes her work as representations of women, black women and herself - "I am a black woman. I use my body in working. When I am bathing or dressing, I see and feel how my body looks and moves. I never do sculpture from a nude model...Mostly watch women."
The distinctively highly finished sculpture also conveys sensuality and natural movement. Catlett makes the most of the natural qualities of the black marble by highly polishing the surface; Catlett stated "I like to finish sculpture to the maximum beauty attainable from the material from which it is created." Elizabeth Catlett made several versions of this distinctive figure between 1970 and 1998 in various media, including orange onyx, in the collection of the Reginald F. Lewis Museum, orange marble and bronze. Herzog p. 154.