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Still-Life: Past Revisited

Thomas B. Cole, MD, MPH
JAMA. 2012;308(20):2064. doi:10.1001/jama.2012.3344.
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A dim corner in a memorabilia shop is the settingof Still-Life: Past Revisited (cover), by the American painter Eldzier Cortor (1916-    ). The shop is stocked with keepsakes gleaned from attics and estates, for sale as-is to collectors who can't afford pricey antiques. A forest of dining chairs frames a knick-knack shelf holding cups, candleholders, and a small replica of James Earle Fraser's weary Indian sculpture, End of the Trail. On the pinball table, near the cathedral radio, is a cardboard fan advertising the hair care products of Madam C. J. Walker. Madam Walker was a self-made millionaire who traveled the country promoting social causes along with her business. She advocated for black veterans of World War I, helped finance the antilynching campaign of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, and supported schools, orphanages, and retirement homes. Behind the pinball table is a bass drum stenciled with the name of the American bandleader Erskine Tate, whose ten-piece jazz orchestra accompanied silent films at the Vendome Theater on the South Side of Chicago.

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Eldzier Cortor (1916-    ), Still-Life: Past Revisited, 1973, American. Oil on canvas. 152.4 × 167.6 cm. Courtesy of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (http://www.mfa.org/), Boston, Massachusetts; The John Axelrod Collection–Frank B. Bemis Fund and Charles H. Bayley Fund, 2011.1821. Photograph courtesy of Michael Rosenfeld Gallery, LLC, New York, New York.

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