Image: Amadou Diallo
(The Bronx, New York, 1931 - )

Amadou Diallo , 2000

Oil on board
28 in. x 20 in. (71.12 cm x 50.8 cm)
Gift of Yona Zeldis McDonough
In February 1999, police searching for a rape suspect knocked on New York resident Amadou Diallo’s door. When the Guinean immigrant opened the door, he reached inside his pocket. Officers responded by firing 41 bullets at him, hitting him 19 times. It turned out he was reaching for his wallet. Zeldis’s painting illustrates a version of the shooting that accords with newspaper descriptions. Tiny windows in the building show neighbors going about their daily activities, unaware of the tragedy unfolding on their doorstep. Diallo’s prominent body assumes a cruciform pose. The many bright red wounds, the body’s position and the use of relative scale all recall the medieval tradition of the martyr portrait, suggesting that Diallo may be a present-day Saint Sebastian.
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