April 19 Categories: Art

Alfredo Jaar, Life Magazine, April 19, 1968, 1995, three chromogenic prints, Smithsonian American Art Museum, © Alfredo Jaar, Courtesy Galerie Lelong, New York, Museum purchase through the Luisita L. and Franz H. Denghausen Endowment, 2013.39A-C

Gallery Label

When Chilean-born artist Alfredo Jaar moved to New York in 1982, he was troubled to discover that racial tensions still ran high long after the civil rights movement had passed its zenith. In Life Magazine, April 19, 1968, he manipulated the iconic photograph of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s funeral procession to highlight the disparity between the number of black and white mourners. Jaar’s decision to present the work as a triptych, a traditional format for Christian altarpieces, helps identify King as a martyr.