Catlett, Elizabeth

Catlett, Elizabeth,

1915–2012, American-Mexican sculptor, painter, and printmaker, considered one of the foremost African-American artists of her era, b. Washington, D.C., grad. Howard Univ. (B.A., 1936), Univ. of Iowa (M.F.A., 1940). Most of her mainly figurative work deals with the politics of race, gender, and poverty, often through depictions of the female form, mothers and children, and African-American life. Her sculpture is executed in such materials as clay, wood, and stone, her prints in woodcut or linocut. During the Great Depression she worked in the mural division of the Work Projects Administration. On a fellowship in Mexico in 1947 she married artist Francisco Mora, and in 1962 became a Mexican citizen. She was a professor of sculpture (1958–76) at Mexico City's School of Fine Arts.


See S. Lewis, The Art of Elizabeth Catlett (1984, repr. 2001); M. A. Herzog, Elizabeth Catlett: An American Artist in Mexico (2000) and Elizabeth Catlett: In the Image of the People (museum catalog, 2005).

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Catlett, Elizabeth

(1919–  ) sculptor; born in Washington, D.C. She graduated from Howard University (1936) and the State University, Iowa (M.F.A. 1940). As an African-American she was a social activist as well as an artist. Based in Morelos, Mexico, she has taught at the School of Fine Arts, National University of Mexico (1958–76), and is known for her wood sculptures such as Black Unity (1968).
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.