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Untitled (bird cage, re-lynching)

Tyree Guyton

Artwork Details

Untitled (bird cage, re-lynching)
Tyree Guyton
metal bird cage stand, American flag, rubber elements, metal bell and rectangular-shaped screen
66 in x 16 in x 11 in (167.64 cm x 40.64 cm x 27.94 cm)
Gift of H. David Zucca


Subject Matter:

The title along with the use of the American flag and replica human penis refer to the history of lynching in the United States—it was common practice to castrate Black men who were being lynched, particularly if there was an accusuation of rape or sexual assault by a White woman. Castration was not only a physical attack on Black masculinity, but it also reinforced social and political stereotypes of "black beasts" and Black men as predators. Tyree Guyton's great-great grandparents were slaves, and his grandfather, Sam Mackey shared stories with Guyton about lynchings in the American south. Guyton addresses lynching in other works, including Soles of the Most High (The Heidelberg Project).
Tyree Guyton has used some of the same symbols and materials in other works—cages including in his Caged Brain (1990, Detroit Institute of Art) and American flags in American Flag Series. Guyton uses art as a medium for social/political commentary and also as a catalyst for social/political change. Most well known for his large-scale installation The Heidelberg Project, the Detroit-based artist Tyree Guyton frequently uses found objects, especially toys. Guyton often juxtaposes childhood objects with more mature social/political themes in his work. 

Physical Description:

A splatter painted bird cage stand with a rounded top cage on top in red, green, orange, white and blue. There is mesh on one side of the bottom of the cage that is also splatter painted. Inside the cage hanging from the top is a small bell, part of an American flag and a replica of a human penis, painted black, hanging upside down.

Usage Rights:

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