COLLECTION: Decorative Sculpture

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I Want You

1980
Origin: America, Virginia, Waverly
Overall: 11 1/2 x 12 1/2 x 7 1/8in. (29.2 x 31.8 x 18.1cm)
Paint on wood with fur
Gift of Ellin and Baron Gordon
Acc. No. 2006.701.5
A freestanding sculpture composed of a thick section of tree root carved and painted to suggest the upper body of a man. The back of the root is cut off flat and left unpainted. The man wears a brown suit and hunches forward, his proper right arm raised and extended, his fingers pointing. His lower jaw juts out, and his mouth is slightly open revealing teeth and red lips. His forehead is bald; fur is glued to the back of his head and to his chin to suggest a beard. The figure is set on a painted piece of wood that bears lettering and is slightly raised at one end.
Label:An inscription on the underside of the sculpture indicates that the artist presented this Uncle Sam figure to Herbert Waide Hemphill, Jr. (1929-1998) of New York City, an ardent collector of twentieth-century folk art and an enthusiastic promoter of Carpenter's work. Although lacking red, white, and blue attire, Carpenter's Uncle Sam is easily recognized by his beard, outstretched arm, pointing finger, and terse command.
By 1980 when this piece was made, Miles Carpenter had long since retired from the lumber business. He filled the leisure hours of his later life by whittling and painting roots, branches, and scraps of wood to create a wide array of creatures, some of them recognizable as individuals, or personifications such as Uncle Sam, while others were more fanciful.
Provenance:Given by the artist to Herbert Waide Hemphill, Jr., New York, NY; sold at Sotheby Parke Bernet, Inc., New York, NY, January 16, 1999, as lot no. 201; purchased at the cited auction by AARFAM's donors, Baron and Ellin Gordon; given by the Gordons to AARFAM in 2006.
Inscription(s):In black paint on the base is: "I WANT YOU". In blue ballpoint pen on the underside of the base is: "MILES/CARPENTER/1980/To/Bert Hemphill". Below the preceding in black paint is: "76". Below the preceding in gray paint is: "GIFT FROM MILES [remainder obscured by paper label]/To H. W. Hem[remainder obscured by paper label]/SEPT. 20, 1984 RECEIVED". Typed onto a paper label on the underside is: "Return To Owner:/Herbert Waide Hemphill, Jr./108 East 30th St./New York, NY 10022/(212) 532-7799". To one side on the underside of the base, in ballpoint pen, is: "#11".