Bert L. Long, Jr.

(American, 1940-2013)

The Force (or Bottom Bound), 1977

Acrylic on canvas; 36 x 48 in.

Acquired in 2021

Bert L. Long, Jr. was a renowned, influential energizer for Houston’s art community. He was one of the founders of Project Row Houses, founder of Houston’s first art magazine, Art Scene, and was often seen with a camera in tow as a documentarian of the city’s art shows and openings. He believed in art as part of an everyday, lived experience. Though he held critically acclaimed shows at the Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, and beyond, Long was simultaneously described as an outsider, having entered the field without a formal arts education. His paintings often depict his experience navigating the art world, sometimes in the mode of the trek, journey, storm, or quest. “I wasn’t born in the art world and it’s hard for African-American artists to break into. It’s a handicap and I had to find my way.” Compared to his later, psychedelic, spiritual, cosmic, surrealistic, abstractive, and figurative works, The Force (or Bottom Bound), as one of his first paintings as a professional artist, is unusual in its more realistic style, reflecting his careful self-study of Old Masters and European and American seascapes. In this symbolic self-portrait, Long depicts himself as a ship in journey left with two choices: either to part waves in order to prevail or succumb to the rough sea.


University of Houston 

John M. O’Quinn Law Building 

Bert L. Long, Jr. | Research

Learn more about resources on the Houston artist Bert L. Long, Jr.

Bert L. Long, Jr. Papers

Access the finding aid for the Bert L. Long, Jr. Papers at UH Libraries Special Collections.

Other Artwork by this Artist

The Couple (Chest of Material Wealth), 1977