THE WORK AND THE ARTIST
Artist: Coe, Sue
Title/Date: The Unspeakable Pursuing the Uneatable, 1951
Description of the work:
The Unspeakable Pursuing the Uneatable depicts a group of animals surrounded by men with firearms. This lithograph is almost exclusively in black –and-white except for the main subjects a three birds, a deer, two bears, a rabbit and a squirrel in the center of the composition. Coe is an animal activist and the main subject of her artwork. The large number of armed men creates rhythm and patterns in the composition.
The human figures surrounding the animals are portrayed in greater detail in the foreground abstracting towards the background. The figures are disproportionate, heads are egg shaped, and facial features are exaggerated to seem more menacing. It is clear that Coe’s use of stylized imagery, as well as, realistic renderings of figures and animals to send a message of horror. On the other hand, the animals in the center of the composition are rendered realistically with textures imitating furs, feathers and, the body of the deer include the representation of the rib cage and neck muscle contraction.
Sue Coe is a contemporary English artist who is best known for her political graphic illustrations as well as her activism. Coe was born in Tamworth, England on November 28, 1951 and immigrated to the United States in 1972 where she began her career as an illustrator in New York City. Growing up near a slaughter house, Coe was able to take inspiration from the sight and developed a passion for animal rights activism. This became a central subject in her work which feature heavy political themes. Coe uses painting, printmaking and realistic drawing styles to show scenes of animals suffering. Some of her influences include Chaim Soutine, Kathe Kollwitz and Francisco de Goya.
Over the years throughout her career, Coe became known for her depictions of victims and their tormentors respectively. She captures the essence of fear and suffering by the use of colors and the stylized nature of her imagery. For example, some of her work included the violence brought forth by the Ku Klux Klan, hunger in Africa, AIDS and terrorism in Ireland. However, she then focused her work on factory farming. Disgusted by the sounds of pigs shrieking as a result of living next to a slaughter house as a child, she then became an animal activist. Coe has become a fighter against animal cruelty in different industries including, medical research and genetic engineering. In 1986 to 1992, Coe visited slaughter houses around the U.S. and Canada recording the ghastly sights she would witness. Through her research, she found inspiration that can be seen throughout her work. Coe believes she is an optimist, which has allowed her to pursue her artistic and activism career throughout the years.
Date and dimension: 1951; Print: 44 ⅜” x 30” and frame: 52 ½” x 37 ¼”
Accession # and Acquisition Date: 1996.01.09; Date: 1996
Condition: Excellent, under glass
Provenance and Exhibitions: N/A
Framed or Flat: Framed
Current location: Piece is part of the University Art Gallery’s permanent collections at New Mexico State University.
-Artnet website, Artists section Sue Coe: http://www.artnet.com/artists/sue-coe/ accessed 19 October 2016
-Galerie St. Etienne website, Artists and Inventory section, Sue Coe: http://www.gseart.com/Artists-Gallery/Coe-Sue/Coe-Sue-Biography.php accessed 19 October 2016
AWTT website, Sue Coe Section: http://www.americanswhotellthetruth.org/portraits/sue-coe accessed 19 October 2016
Researched By: Jesus Zubia, 19 October 2016