In her renowned sculpture Gamin (the French term for a street urchin) Augusta Savage skillfully captured the mix of pride, inquisitiveness and self-confidence that characterized the many youths struggling for survival on the streets of New York in the 1920s and 1930s. Gamin is Savage's best-known work and has become one of the icons of the cultural revolution known as the Harlem Renaissance. Although Gamin looks like a sturdy bronze bust it is actually made of carefully-painted plaster. Surviving examples in untouched condition like this one are quite rare, for plaster is easily chipped and cracked and the fragile surface is susceptible to scuffs and abrasions.
Savage was a mentor to many young artists, including Romare Bearden. Late in his life, Bearden recalled that Savage was an inspiring role model: she was "open, free, resisted the usual conventions of the time, and lived for her art, thinking of success only in terms of how well her sculptures turned out."
Measurements: height: 9.25 inches width: 6 inches depth: 4 inchesMuseum Purchase: Mint Museum Auxiliary Fund 2008.58
Currently on view at Mint Museum UPTOWN