In 1927, the Chicago Art Institute presented the first major museum exhibition of art by African Americans. Designed to demonstrate the artists' abilities and to promote racial equality, the exhibition also revealed the art world's anxieties about the participation of African Americans in the exclusive venue of art museums--places where blacks had historically been barred from visiting let alone exhibiting. Since then, America's major art museums have served as crucial locations for African Americans to protest against their exclusion and attest to their contributions in the visual arts. In Exhibiting Blackness, art historian Bridget R. Cooks analyzes the curatorial strategies, challenges, and critical receptions of the most significant museum exhibitions of African American art. Tracing two dominant methodologies used to exhibit art by African Americans--an ethnographic approach that focuses more on artists than their art, and a recovery narrative aimed at correcting past omissions--Cooks exposes the issues involved in exhibiting cultural difference that continue to challenge art history, historiography, and American museum exhibition practices. By further examining the unequal and often contested relationship between African American artists, curators, and visitors, she provides insight into the complex role of art museums and their accountability to the cultures they represent.
Ronald Lockett (1965-1998) stands out among southern artists in the late twentieth century. Raised in the African American industrial city of Bessemer, Alabama, Lockett explored a range of recurring themes through his art: faith, the endless cycle of life, environmental degradation, historical events, the sweetness of idealized love, mourning, human emotion, and personal struggle. By the time Lockett died at age thirty-two, he had created an estimated four hundred works that document an extraordinary artistic evolution. This book offers the first in-depth critical treatment of Lockett's art, alongside sixty full-color plates of the artist's paintings and assemblages, shedding light on Lockett's career and work. By placing Lockett at its center, contributors contextualize what might be best understood as the Birmingham-Bessemer School of art, which includes Thornton Dial, Joe Minter, and Lonnie Holley, and its turbulent social, economic, and personal contexts. While broadening our understanding of southern contemporary art, Fever Within uncovers how one artist's work has become emblematic of the frustrated, yearning, unredeemed promises, and family and community resilience expressed by a generation of African American artists at the close of the twentieth century.
Contributors include Paul Arnett, Sharon Patricia Holland, Katherine L. Jentleson, Thomas J. Lax, and Colin Rhodes.
On the South Side of Chicago in the 1960s, African American artists and musicians grappled with new language and forms inspired by the black nationalist turn in the Civil Rights movement. The Freedom Principle, which accompanies an exhibition on the topic at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, traces their history and shows how it continues to inform contemporary artists around the world.The book coincides with the fiftieth anniversary of the founding of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM), a still-flourishing organization of Chicago musicians who challenge jazz's boundaries. Combining archival materials such as brochures, photographs, sheet music, and record covers with contemporary art work that respond to the 1960s Black Arts Movement, The Freedom Principle explores this tradition of cultural expression from, as one AACM group used to put it, the "ancient to the future." Essays by curators Naomi Beckwith and Dieter Roelstraete, AACM member and historian George Lewis, art historian Rebecca Zorach, and gallerist John Corbett accompany beautiful reproductions of work by artists such as Muhal Richard Abrams, Barbara Jones-Hogu, Cauleen Smith, Rashid Johnson, Nick Cave, and many more. A roundtable conversation features Beckwith, Roelstraete, curator Hamza Walker, current AACM member and cellist Tomeka Reid, and scholar and curator Romi Crawford, with additional comments from poet and scholar Fred Moten. A chronology and curated playlist of AACM-related recordings are also included. The resulting book offers a rich sense of a global movement, with crucial roots in Chicago, driven by a commitment to experimentation, improvisation, collective action, and the pursuit of freedom.
In this pivotal book, the captivating and kinetic images of noted photographer Eric Waters are paired with a collection of insightful essays by preeminent authors and cultural leaders to offer the first complete look at the Social, Aid and Pleasure Club (SAPC) parade culture in New Or-leans. Ranging from ideological approaches to the contributions of musicians, development of specific rituals by various clubs, and parade accessories such as elaborately decorated fans and sashes, Freedom's Dance provides an unparalleled photographic and textual overview of the SAPC Second Line, tracking its origins in African traditions and subsequent development in black New Orleans culture.Karen Celestan's vibrant narrative is supplemented with interviews of longtime culture-bearers such as Oliver "Squirk" Hunter, Lois Andrews (mother of Troy "Trombone Shorty" Andrews and James Andrews), Fred Johnson, Gregory Davis, and Lionel Batiste, while interdisciplinary essays by leading scholars detail the rituals, historic perspective, and purpose of the Second Line. Freedom's Dance defines this unique pub-lic-private phenomenon and captures every aspect of the Second Line, from SAPC members' rollicking introductions at their annual parade to a funeral procession on its way to the crypt. Visually dazzling and critically important, Freedom's Dance serves as both a celebration and a deep exploration of this understudied but immediately recognizable aspect of the African American tradition in the Big Easy.
Through the prism of America's most enduring African-inspired art form, the Lowcountry basket, Grass Roots guides readers across 300 years of American and African history. In scholarly essays and beautiful photographs, Grass Roots follows the coiled basket along its transformation on two continents from a simple farm tool once used for processing grain to a work of art and a central symbol of African and African American identity. Featuring images of the stunning work of contemporary basket makers from South Carolina to South Africa, as well as historic photographs that document the artistic heritage of the southern United States, Grass Roots appears at a moment when public recognition of the Gullah/Geechee heritage is encouraging a reexamination of Africa's contribution to American civilization.
Working with basket makers from Charleston and Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina, historian Dale Rosengarten has been studying African-American baskets for over 20 years and brings her research up-to-date with interviews of artists and the results of recent historical inquiry. Anthropologist Enid Schildkrout draws on her research in West Africa and museum collections around the world to explore the African antecedents of Lowcountry basketry. Geographer Judith A. Carney discusses the origins of rice in Africa and reveals how enslaved Africans brought to America not only rice seeds but, just as important, the technical know-how that turned southern coastal forests and swamps into incredibly profitable rice plantations. Historian Peter H. Wood discusses the many skills that enslaved Africans contributed to the settlement of the Old South and at the same time used to resist the conditions of their servitude. John Michael Vlach, a leading authority on African American folk art, discusses the history of visual depictions of plantation life. Fath Davis Ruffins, a specialist on the imagery of popular culture, sheds light on the history embedded in old photographs of African Americans in the Charleston area. Cultural historian Jessica B. Harris explores the tradition of rice in American cooking and the enduring African influences in the southern kitchen. Anthropologist and art historian Sandra Klopper sketches the history of coiled basketry in South Africa, illuminating its evolution from utilitarian craft to fine art, parallel to developments in America. Anthropologist J. Lorand Matory traces the changing meanings of Gullah/Geechee identity and discusses its appearance as a significant force on the American cultural scene today.
Traces the history of African-American art, examining the lives and careers of more than fifty artists and relating their work to prevailing artistic, social, and political trends
Published in association with the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago
Lawrence's landmark series on African American migration in context
In 1941, Jacob Lawrence, then just 23 years old, made a series of 60 small tempera paintings on the Great Migration, the decades-long mass movement of black Americans from the rural South to the urban North that began in 1915-16. The child of migrant parents, Lawrence worked partly from his own experience and partly from long research in his neighborhood library. The result was an epic narrative of the collective history of his people. Moving from scenes of terror and violence to images of great intimacy, and drawing on film, photography, political cartoons and other sources in popular culture, Lawrence created an innovative format of sequential panels, each image accompanied by a descriptive caption. Within months of its completion, the series entered the collections of The Museum of Modern Art, New York, and the Phillips Memorial Gallery (today The Phillips Collection), Washington, DC, each institution acquiring 30 panels.
The Migration Series is now a landmark in the history of modern art. Jacob Lawrence: The Migration Series, now in paperback, grounds Lawrence's work in the cultural and political debates that shaped his art and demonstrates its relevance for artists and writers today. The series is reproduced in full; short texts accompanying each panel relate them to the history of the Migration and explore Lawrence's technique and approach. Alongside scholarly essays, the book also includes 11 newly commissioned poems, by Rita Dove, Nikky Finney, Terrance Hayes, Tyehimba Jess, Yusef Komunyakaa, Patricia Spears Jones, Natasha Trethewey, Lyrae Van Clief-Stefanon, Crystal Williams and Kevin Young, that respond directly to the series. The distinguished poet Elizabeth Alexander edited and introduces the section.
The most comprehensive book yet on this inspired, inventive chronicler of the African-American experience
Alabama-born, Chicago-based Kerry James Marshall is one of the most exciting artists working today. Critically and commercially acclaimed, the painter is known for his representation of the history of African-American identity in Western art. Conversant with a wide typology of styles, subjects, and techniques, from abstraction to realism and comics, Marshall synthesizes different traditions and genres in his work while seeking to counter stereotypical depictions of black people in society. This is the most comprehensive overview available of his remarkable career.
The definitive monograph on contemporary African American painter Kerry James Marshall, accompanying a major traveling retrospective. This long-awaited volume celebrates the work of Kerry James Marshall, one of America's greatest living painters. Born before the passage of the Civil Rights Act, in Birmingham, Alabama, and witness to the Watts riots in 1965, Marshall has long been an inspired and imaginative chronicler of the African American experience. Best known for large-scale interiors, landscapes, and portraits featuring powerful black figures, Marshall explores narratives of African American history from slave ships to the present and draws upon his deep knowledge of art history from the Renaissance to twentieth-century abstraction, as well as other sources such as the comic book and the muralist tradition. With luscious color and brushstrokes and highly detailed patterning, his direct and intimate scenes of black middle-class life conjure a wide range of emotions, resulting in powerful paintings that confront the position of African Americans throughout American history. Richly illustrated, this monumental book features essays by noted curators as well as the artist, and more than 100 paintings from throughout the artist's career arranged thematically by subject: history painting; beauty, as expressed through the nude, portraiture, and self-portraiture; landscape; religion; and the politics of black nationalism.