Soft fabric construction, human hair and fabric paint, mounted on wood bases, 1979. Tut: 419x165x140 mm; 16 1/2x6 1/2x5 1/2 inches; Betty: 381x178x133 mm; 15x7x5 1/4 inches. Both signed, titled and dated in ink on the underside of the base.
Provenance: acquired directly from the artist: private collection, Texas.
Tut and Betty are the first of Faith Ringgold's 'soft sculptures' to come to auction. This striking pair are a handsome couple decked out in full disco club attire. Ringgold made Tut and Betty in her 1978-79 series, the International Doll Collection, part of a group of dance couple dolls. Similar pairs Ramon and Anita, Bill and Happi, Frank and Tina were exhibited in the 1996 New Museum exhibiton Labor of Love.
In the early 1970s, Faith Ringgold began making tankas (inspired by a Tibetan art form of paintings framed in richly brocaded fabrics), soft sculptures and masks before she developed her signature medium, the story quilts. Ringgold embraced the feminisim of media which did not fit into the heirachy of fine art, a handmade art that celebrates undervalued female creative production. Her 'Family of Woman' masks and soft sculpture figures from the 1970s included costumes sewn by her mother, who was a professional seamstress and whom made Ringgold dolls. Ringgold infuses a political and social activism to a practice that had been once been demeaningly labelled as 'women's work'. In the late 1970s, Ringgold also used her soft sculptures and masks in performance art pieces which explored feminist identity and the female body. Her most famous doll is Cassie who is one of the character's in her best known story quilt Tar Beach. who has been popularized by her best-selling same time-titled children's book.
Ringgold's soft sculptures are also in the collection of the Toledo Museum of Art, and have been included in recent exhibitions at the Crocker Art Museum and the Ford Foundation Gallery. Ringgold is now the subject of a recent international traveling retrospective which was at the Serpentine Galleries, London last year. It is now at the Bildmuseet in Sweden and travels to Glenstone, the contemporary art museum outside of Washington, DC, in the spring of 2021.