Margaret Brassler Kane’s Harlem Dancers — Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: 2 items or the number two

This is our entry in Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: 2 items or the number two.

We recently visited the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, D. C. One piece of art that we particularly liked was Harlem Dancers, a sculpture in Tennessee marble created by Margaret Brassler Kane.


This website is a good source of information about Margaret Brassler Kane.  Born into a wealthy family in 1909, she married in 1930 and began sculpting human busts and animal figures, creating models in clay and having them cast in bronze.  After the stock market crash of 1929 and subsequent reduction in income, as well as the birth of her first child, she switched materials from the more expensive bronze casting to marble, which she could process closer home with the full support of her extended family. Her first marble piece, completed in 1937, was Harlem Dancers.  Later in life, this sculpture was duplicated in bronze and she donated the original marble statue to the Smithsonian American Art Museum in 1993.


The figure is generously sized at 29 7/8” x 14 ½” x 14”, although the table on which it stands is tall enough that viewing the individual heads is a bit difficult.  What we particularly appreciate about this piece is how its simple curves are able to suggest more complex shapes and emotions.  The dress of the female dancer is form-fitting yet elegant; the pattern of the skirt was, in fact, based on the design of peanut shells and suggests movement. Using only a few simple lines, the man’s suit is classically formal.  The two forms, man and woman, fit together well.  Our favorite part of the piece is the quiet serenity of the woman’s face.