I immediately recognized that the instruments of his labor—brushes and a bucket of whitewash, used to brighten the walls of soot-filled homes—were often the stuff of racial satire and caricature in the nineteenth century. Was this a sympathetic portrayal of an African American or something much more complicated?
The invited essays included in this section offer nuanced readings of artists spanning nearly a century, whose engagement with European art and artistic tradition vary from full-throated adulation to subtle and unspoken resonances.
This special section of Panorama entitled “Riff: African American Artists and the European Canon” is an outgrowth of an Association for Critical Race Art History panel of the same name that took place at the annual meeting of the College Art Association in 2017. The five essays included in this section offer nuanced readings of artists spanning nearly a century, whose engagement with European art and artistic tradition vary from full-throated adulation to subtle and unspoken resonances.
Developing his artistry while living abroad, Middleton would position his work in prevailing canonical artistic traditions of twentieth-century European modernism, particularly the innovation and creative experimentation inherent to collage.
This process of what I term a “re-membering” of history through Weems’s body and gaze indicts the landscape and the buildings that populate as key players in multiple histories.
Considering the era of its making—the decade of the Vietnam War and resistance to it in many national capitals, anti-government protests across the globe, and both nonviolent and armed uprisings against institutional discrimination and social inequity—Mauritius provokes questions about human conflicts, their histories, and their costs.
Throughout his more than four-decade-long career in the arts, Brooker has created a distinctive artistic language that calls out to viewers to not only look at his work as arrangements of patterns, colors, and shapes on canvas or paper, but also as investigations into the divine.
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