Borrowing from Romare Bearden’s aesthetic palette and inspired by his Odysseus series, Bearden’s Odyssey gathers, for the first time, poems from thirty-five of the most revered African diaspora poets in the United States. Poetic echoes come forth in themes of inspiration with historical intersections of one of the greatest visual artists of the twentieth century.
The award-winning editors, Kwame Dawes and Matthew Shenoda, assemble an esteemed literary congregation, with original poems by Chris Abani, Rita Dove, Lyrae Van Clief-Stefanon, Ed Roberson, Aracelis Girmay, Yusef Komunyakaa, and more. With a powerful foreword by Nobel laureate Derek Walcott and stunning visual reproductions of select Bearden masterpieces, this anthology fuses art and literature, standing as a testament to Romare Bearden’s power and influence in the contemporary artistic world.
From postwar efforts to end discrimination in the motion-picture industry, recording studios, and musicians’ unions, through the development of community-based arts organizations, to the creation of searing films critiquing conditions in the black working class neighborhoods of a city touting its multiculturalism—Black Arts West documents the social and political significance of African American arts activity in Los Angeles between the Second World War and the riots of 1992. Focusing on the lives and work of black writers, visual artists, musicians, and filmmakers, Daniel Widener tells how black cultural politics changed over time, and how altered political realities generated new forms of artistic and cultural expression. His narrative is filled with figures invested in the politics of black art and culture in postwar Los Angeles, including not only African American artists but also black nationalists, affluent liberal whites, elected officials, and federal bureaucrats.
Along with the politicization of black culture, Widener explores the rise of a distinctive regional Black Arts Movement. Originating in the efforts of wartime cultural activists, the movement was rooted in the black working class and characterized by struggles for artistic autonomy and improved living and working conditions for local black artists. As new ideas concerning art, racial identity, and the institutional position of African American artists emerged, dozens of new collectives appeared, from the Watts Writers Workshop, to the Inner City Cultural Center, to the New Art Jazz Ensemble. Spread across generations of artists, the Black Arts Movement in Southern California was more than the artistic affiliate of the local civil-rights or black-power efforts: it was a social movement itself. Illuminating the fundamental connections between expressive culture and political struggle, Black Arts West is a major contribution to the histories of Los Angeles, black radicalism, and avant-garde art.
In the 1920s and 1930s Boston became a rich and distinctive site of African American artistic production, unfolding at the same time as the Harlem Renaissance and encompassing literature, theater, music, and visual art. Owing to the ephemeral nature of much of this work, many of the era's primary sources have been lost.
In this book, Lorraine Elena Roses employs archival sources and personal interviews to recover this artistic output, examining the work of celebrated figures such as Dorothy West, Helene Johnson, Meta Warrick Fuller, and Allan Rohan Crite, as well as lesser-known artists including Eugene Gordon, Ralf Coleman, Gertrude "Toki" Schalk, and Alvira Hazzard. Black Bostonians and the Politics of Culture, 1920–1940 demonstrates how this creative community militated against the color line not solely through powerful acts of civil disobedience but also by way of a strong repertoire of artistic projects.
The post-civil rights era of the 1970s offered African Americans an all-too-familiar paradox. Material and symbolic gains contended with setbacks fueled by resentment and reaction. African American artists responded with black approaches to expression that made history in their own time and continue to exercise an enormous influence on contemporary culture and politics.
This collection's fascinating spectrum of topics begins with the literary and cinematic representations of slavery from the 1970s to the present. Other authors delve into visual culture from Blaxploitation to the art of Betye Saar to stage works like A Movie Star Has to Star in Black and White as well as groundbreaking literary works like Corregidora and Captain Blackman. A pair of concluding essays concentrate on institutional change by looking at the Seventies surge of black publishing and by analyzing Ntozake Shange's for colored girls. . . in the context of current controversies surrounding sexual violence. Throughout, the writers reveal how Seventies black cultural production anchors important contemporary debates in black feminism and other issues while spurring the black imagination to thrive amidst abject social and political conditions.
Contributors: Courtney R. Baker, Soyica Diggs Colbert, Madhu Dubey, Nadine Knight, Monica White Ndounou, Kinohi Nishikawa, Samantha Pinto, Jermaine Singleton, Terrion L. Williamson, and Lisa Woolfork
In Black Gathering Sarah Jane Cervenak engages with Black artists and writers who create alternative spaces for Black people to gather free from interruption or regulation. Drawing together Black feminist theory, critical theories of ecology and ecoaesthetics, and Black aesthetics, Cervenak shows how novelists, poets, and visual artists such as Gayl Jones, Toni Morrison, Clementine Hunter, Samiya Bashir, and Leonardo Drew advance an ecological imagination that unsettles Western philosophical ideas of the earth as given to humans. In their aestheticization and conceptualization of gathering, these artists investigate the relationships among art, the environment, home, and forms of Black togetherness. Cervenak argues that by offering a formal and conceptual praxis of gathering, Black artists imagine liberation and alternative ways of being in the world that exist beyond those Enlightenment philosophies that presume Black people and earth as given to enclosure and ownership.
At the close of the twentieth century, black artists began to figure prominently in the mainstream American art world for the first time. Thanks to the social advances of the civil rights movement and the rise of multiculturalism, African American artists in the late 1980s and early ’90s enjoyed unprecedented access to established institutions of publicity and display. Yet in this moment of ostensible freedom, black cultural practitioners found themselves turning to the history of slavery.
Bound to Appear focuses on four of these artists—Renée Green, Glenn Ligon, Lorna Simpson, and Fred Wilson—who have dominated and shaped the field of American art over the past two decades through large-scale installations that radically departed from prior conventions for representing the enslaved. Huey Copeland shows that their projects draw on strategies associated with minimalism, conceptualism, and institutional critique to position the slave as a vexed figure—both subject and object, property and person. They also engage the visual logic of race in modernity and the challenges negotiated by black subjects in the present. As such, Copeland argues, their work reframes strategies of representation and rethinks how blackness might be imagined and felt long after the end of the “peculiar institution.” The first book to examine in depth these artists’ engagements with slavery, Bound to Appear will leave an indelible mark on modern and contemporary art.
A daughter of the poets Hettie Jones and Amiri Baraka, Kellie Jones grew up immersed in a world of artists, musicians, and writers in Manhattan’s East Village and absorbed in black nationalist ideas about art, politics, and social justice across the river in Newark. The activist vision of art and culture that she learned in those two communities, and especially from her family, has shaped her life and work as an art critic and curator. Featuring selections of her writings from the past twenty years, EyeMinded reveals Jones’s role in bringing attention to the work of African American, African, Latin American, and women artists who have challenged established art practices. Interviews that she conducted with the painter Howardena Pindell, the installation and performance artist David Hammons, and the Cuban sculptor Kcho appear along with pieces on the photographers Dawoud Bey, Lorna Simpson, and Pat Ward Williams; the sculptor Martin Puryear; the assemblage artist Betye Saar; and the painters Jean-Michel Basquiat, Norman Lewis, and Al Loving. Reflecting Jones’s curatorial sensibility, this collection is structured as a dialogue between her writings and works by her parents, her sister Lisa Jones, and her husband Guthrie P. Ramsey Jr. EyeMinded offers a glimpse into the family conversation that has shaped and sustained Jones, insight into the development of her critical and curatorial vision, and a survey of some of the most important figures in contemporary art.
“Hold tight. The way to go mad without losing your mind is sometimes unruly.” So begins La Marr Jurelle Bruce's urgent provocation and poignant meditation on madness in black radical art. Bruce theorizes four overlapping meanings of madness: the lived experience of an unruly mind, the psychiatric category of serious mental illness, the emotional state also known as “rage,” and any drastic deviation from psychosocial norms. With care and verve, he explores the mad in the literature of Amiri Baraka, Gayl Jones, and Ntozake Shange; in the jazz repertoires of Buddy Bolden, Sun Ra, and Charles Mingus; in the comedic performances of Richard Pryor and Dave Chappelle; in the protest music of Nina Simone, Lauryn Hill, and Kendrick Lamar, and beyond. These artists activate madness as content, form, aesthetic, strategy, philosophy, and energy in an enduring black radical tradition. Joining this tradition, Bruce mobilizes a set of interpretive practices, affective dispositions, political principles, and existential orientations that he calls “mad methodology.” Ultimately, How to Go Mad without Losing Your Mind is both a study and an act of critical, ethical, radical madness.
The New Negro Artist in Paris analyzes the experiences and works of six African American artists who lived and worked in Paris during the Jazz Age sculptors Elizabeth Prophet and Augusta Savage, and painters Palmer Hayden, Hale Woodruff, Archibald J. Motley, Jr., and Albert Alexander Smith. More than 120 works of art are analyzed, many never before published.
These artists exhibited the works they created in Paris at prestigious salons in France and in the United States, winning fellowships, grants, and awards. Leininger-Miller argues that it was study abroad that won these artists critical acclaim, establishing their reputations as some of the most significant leaders of the New Negro movement in the visual arts. She begins her study with a history of the debut of African American artists in Paris, 1830–1914, then provides readers with rarely seen profiles of each of the six artists from their birth through the end of their time abroad. Finally, Leininger-Miller examines patterns and differences in these individuals’ backgrounds and development, their patronage in the United States and France, their shared experiences abroad, and the impact their study in Paris had on the rest of their careers.
The Romare Bearden Reader brings together a collection of new essays and canonical writings by novelists, poets, historians, critics, and playwrights. The contributors, who include Toni Morrison, Ralph Ellison, August Wilson, Farah Jasmine Griffin, and Kobena Mercer, contextualize Bearden's life and career within the history of modern art, examine the influence of jazz and literature on his work, trace his impact on twentieth-century African American culture, and outline his art's political dimensions. Others focus on specific pieces, such as A Black Odyssey, or the ways in which Bearden used collage to understand African American identity. The Reader also includes Bearden's most important writings, which grant readers insight into his aesthetic values and practices and share his desire to tell what it means to be black in America. Put simply, The Romare Bearden Reader is an indispensable volume on one of the giants of twentieth-century American art.
Contributors. Elizabeth Alexander, Romare Bearden, Mary Lee Corlett, Rachel DeLue, David C. Driskell, Brent Hayes Edwards, Ralph Ellison, Henri Ghent, Farah Jasmine Griffin, Harry Henderson, Kobena Mercer, Toni Morrison, Albert Murray, Robert G. O’Meally, Richard Powell, Richard Price, Sally Price, Myron Schwartzman, Robert Burns Stepto, Calvin Tomkins, John Edgar Wideman, August Wilson
Named a Best Art Book of 2017 by the New York Times and Artforum
In South of Pico Kellie Jones explores how the artists in Los Angeles's black communities during the 1960s and 1970s created a vibrant, productive, and engaged activist arts scene in the face of structural racism. Emphasizing the importance of African American migration, as well as L.A.'s housing and employment politics, Jones shows how the work of black Angeleno artists such as Betye Saar, Charles White, Noah Purifoy, and Senga Nengudi spoke to the dislocation of migration, L.A.'s urban renewal, and restrictions on black mobility. Jones characterizes their works as modern migration narratives that look to the past to consider real and imagined futures. She also attends to these artists' relationships with gallery and museum culture and the establishment of black-owned arts spaces. With South of Pico, Jones expands the understanding of the histories of black arts and creativity in Los Angeles and beyond.
The extraordinarily productive life of curator, artist, and activist Margaret Burroughs was largely rooted in her work to establish and sustain two significant institutions in Chicago: the South Side Community Art Center (SSCAC), founded in 1940, and the DuSable Museum of African American History, founded in her living room in 1961.
As Mary Ann Cain's South Side Venus: The Legacy of Margaret Burroughs reveals, the primary motivations for these efforts were love and hope. Burroughs was spurred by her love for Chicago's African American community—largely ill served by mainstream arts organizations—and by her hope that these new, black-run cultural centers would welcome many generations of aspiring artists and art lovers.
This first, long–awaited biography of Burroughs draws on interviews with peers, colleagues, friends, and family, and extensive archival research at the DuSable Museum, the Art Institute of Chicago, and the Chicago Public Library. Cain traces Burroughs's multifaceted career, details her work and residency on Chicago's South Side, and highlights her relationships with other artists and culture makers. Here, we see Burroughs as teacher and mentor as well as institution builder.
Anchored by the author's talks with Burroughs as they stroll through her beloved Bronzeville, and featuring portraits of Burroughs with family and friends, South Side Venus will enlighten anyone interested in Chicago, African American history, social justice, and the arts.
In Tropical Aesthetics of Black Modernism, Samantha A. Noël investigates how Black Caribbean and American artists of the early twentieth century responded to and challenged colonial and other white-dominant regimes through tropicalist representation. With depictions of tropical scenery and landscapes situated throughout the African diaspora, performances staged in tropical settings, and bodily expressions of tropicality during Carnival, artists such as Aaron Douglas, Wifredo Lam, Josephine Baker, and Maya Angelou developed what Noël calls “tropical aesthetics”—using art to name and reclaim spaces of Black sovereignty. As a unifying element in the Caribbean modern art movement and the Harlem Renaissance, tropical aesthetics became a way for visual artists and performers to express their sense of belonging to and rootedness in a place. Tropical aesthetics, Noël contends, became central to these artists’ identities and creative processes while enabling them to craft alternative Black diasporic histories. In outlining the centrality of tropical aesthetics in the artistic and cultural practices of Black modernist art, Noël recasts understandings of African diasporic art.
Chicago is home to more intact African American street murals from the 1970s and ’80s than any other U.S. city. Among Chicago’s greatest muralists is the legendary William “Bill” Walker (1927–2011), compared by art historians to Diego Rivera and called the most accomplished contemporary practitioner of the classical mural tradition.
Though his art could not have been more public, Walker maintained a low profile during his working life and virtually withdrew from the public eye after his retirement in 1989. Author Jeff W. Huebner met Walker in 1990 and embarked on a series of insightful interviews that stretched over the next two decades. Those meetings and years of research form the basis of Walls of Prophecy and Protest, the story of Walker’s remarkable life and the movement that he inspired.
Featuring forty-three color images of Walker’s work, most long since destroyed or painted over, this handsome edition reveals the artist who was the primary figure behind Chicago’s famed Wall of Respect and who created numerous murals that depicted African American historical figures, protested social injustice, and promoted love, respect, racial unity, and community change.