[Women Sculptors & Race] Malvina Hoffman.
1934 Invitation to the sculpture exhibition “The Races of Man”
Invitation to the January 30, 1934 sculpture exhibition “The Races of Man” by Malvina Hoffman held at the Grand Central Art Galleries in New York City. Hoffman’s anthropological sculptures later became controversial for perpetuating racial stereotypes.
Hoffman’s sculptures, mostly bronzes, were commissioned by the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago and exhibited there. Reduced copies of the sculptures were sent to New York City in January 1934 and were exhibited at the Grand Central Galleries.
The present invitation to “The Races of Man” was for a reception to open the exhibition, held as a benefit for the Emergency Fund for Needy American Artists. Patrons included Stanley Field, the director of the Field Museum, Mrs. Vincent Astor, Henry Francis duPont, W. Averell Harriman, and John D. Rockefeller, Jr.
Hoffman’s sculptures documented the diversity of the world’s nationalities and races. These anthropological “types” became controversial during the modern Civil Rights era. An article in The American Historical Review notes that “...Malvina Hoffman’s prewar sculptures of the ‘Races of Mankind,’ had perpetuated an older typological approach by presenting ‘race’ in the form of literally static bronze figures depicting idealized racial ‘types.’”¹
Description: [Women Sculptors & Race] Malvina Hoffman.
[New York, 1934]. pp. Bifolium. 8½ x 5½ inches. Orange, heavy card stock. Illustration. Contemporary newspaper clipping about the exhibition laid in. Near Fine.
Note. 1. Michelle Brattain | Race, Racism, and Antiracism: UNESCO and the Politics of Presenting Science to the Postwar Public | The American Historical Review, 112.5 | The History Cooperative accessed online: “Hoffman’s sculptures, commissioned in 1929 and functioning as the representation of race at the Field Museum for the following thirty years, were widely reproduced as small-scale replicas circulated during World War II, and appeared in photographs for the C. S. Hammond Company’s World Atlas and the World Book Encyclopedia from the 1940s to the 1960s.” N.B. The Field Museum display was dismantled in 1969; fifty sculptures from “The Races of Man” were re-exhibited in 2016 in an exhibition entitled “Looking at Ourselves: Rethinking the Sculptures of Malvina Hoffman.”