Meaningful Thoughts: Kerry James Marshall’s ‘SOB, SOB’

WASHINGTON, DC—There is a compelling, large-scale work by Kerry James Marshall hanging just inside the contemporary gallery at the American Art Museum. A woman sits on the floor before a bookcase from which she has selected a single volume. It’s a straightforward image, until the thought clouds are introduced. “SOB, SOB”? Who or what she is referring to is up for interpretation.

Marshall was born in Alabama and grew up in South Central Los Angeles. According to the museum, the painting “evokes Marshall’s intellectual journey over the last fifty years beginning with his boyhood visits to the local library…’SOB, SOB’ reflects this thirst for information. It is a painting about the accumulation and dissemination of knowledge, and relates closely to Marshall’s ongoing exploration of African American history.”

Photos by Arts Observer

“SOB, SOB,” 2003 (acrylic on fiberglass).

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