'Let the people see what I have seen', said the mother of Emmett Till. In 1955 her son, a 14-year-old black boy from Illinois, was falsely accused of flirting with a white woman, tortured, murdered and dumped in a river by the woman’s husband and his half-brother, both of whom were summarily acquitted by a white jury. The photographs taken of Till's corpse – battered and bloated beyond recognition – succeeded in shaming and inflaming a nation: he became an icon of the civil rights movement.
The recent police shootings caught on camera, and the response from Black Lives Matter, gave Dana Schutz – a New York-based painter of considerable talent – the idea of bringing up Till again. Her painting, 'Open Casket', is now hanging at the Whitney Museum of Art in an exhibition curated to highlight 'racial tensions, economic inequities, and polarizing politics'.