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“Conuest of the Moon,” #1

Folk and Self-Taught Art

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“Conuest of the Moon,” #1

Artwork Details


William L. Hawkins
American, 1895–1990




Enamel paint on Masonite

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Currently Not on View


With its sophisticated composition, fantastic colors, and virtuoso brushwork, this painting of the first moon landing is regarded as one of William Hawkins’s greatest works. Behind the astronaut in his audacious green spacesuit, the black infinity of the cosmos erupts in a riot of explosions and rockets, as if the universe itself were responding. By casting the astronaut as a Black man, Hawkins implicitly critiqued American history as he reaffirmed this event as a “giant leap” for all mankind. Hawkins collected images from magazines and books to use as inspiration for his works and here likely combined several images of the landing he had gathered from various periodicals.


T. Marshall Hahn Collection