I Had a Dream

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I Had a Dream

Oil on Masonite
24 × 30 × 3 in. (7.62 cm)
Purchased with funds provided by the American Art Council (M.2011.42)
Currently on public view:
Art of the Americas Building, floor 3 MAP IT
Art of the Americas Building, floor 3

Since gallery displays may change often, please contact us before you visit to make certain this item is on view.

Curator Notes

In 1936, Edward Biberman moved from New York City to Los Angeles. He is best known for later paintings such as LACMA’s The White Fire Escape....
In 1936, Edward Biberman moved from New York City to Los Angeles. He is best known for later paintings such as LACMA’s The White Fire Escape. Such urban scenes reveal his affinity for the seemingly mundane details of midcentury modern architecture, which he illuminated through his attention to the light, shadow, and geometry of both subject matter and composition. But throughout his career he created important figurative paintings of labor, social struggle and political tension, such as LACMA’s Conspiracy (1955), as well as significant portraiture. His portraits of African American cultural and political leaders are especially noteworthy: he created a monumental portrait of Paul Robeson, and his Lena Horne is in the collection of the National Portrait Gallery where it has graced enormous banners on their façade. Biberman is an important, if long overlooked, Los Angeles artist that the American and Modern departments at LACMA are focusing on building a collection of his art through gift and purchase. I Had a Dream, painted in 1968, was created in response to the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King and is unique for Biberman in that it zooms in on the civil rights leader’s face. Though we see only Dr. King’s eyes, nose and mustache, his iconic features are instantly recognizable. The searing intensity of his gaze is steadfast and visionary. The American Art department looks for such portraiture with which our diverse audiences can identify. A large and powerful painting like I Had a Dream not only represents one of the most important figures of the twentieth century but demonstrates the devastating impact of his death on all Americans and can remind us of the significance of his legacy today. (Austen Bailly, Curator American Art, and Ilene Fort, Senior Curator and The Gail and John Liebes Curator of American Art)