Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Black Art Project (BAP): Booklist

BAP Booklist, the latest feature from the Black Art Project, will highlight recently published books that have an African American art focus. Identifying titles as they are recently published or in pre-publication status is crucial for those building a library that has some focus on African American art. Publishing trends are such that these titles are generally released in small runs, numbering from a few hundred to no more than 2,000 copies, so it is better to purchase the title sooner rather than later to be assured of securing a first edition copy. Once the title is out of print and the main source of securing a copy becomes the secondary market, then the price escalates. African American art books are usually published by smaller presses, academic presses, or museum/gallery presses, and are generally not mass distributed.  The marketing strategy for these books is not as extensive as books that fall within the social sciences or humanities, and certainly not to the degree of fiction books.

Although there has been a continuation of the trend to publish more fine art books, focusing on African American art, those numbers are still not large and may be considered dismal in relationship to publications focusing on American art. However, their numbers have increased, and the following are a few of the latest titles to consider for your book shelf:

  • Chapin, Mary Weaver. The Prints of Warrington Colescott: A Catalogue Raisonné, 1948-2008. Madison, Wisconsin: The University of Wisconsin  Press in collaboration with Milwaukee Art Museum, 2010. $85.00             

This exhaustive catalogue covers every known print work of Warrington Colescott through 2008."The catalogue documents and depicts all 354 of Colescott’s editioned prints, providing title, date, media, dimensions, and selected exhibition history and collections for each print, along with comments and anecdotes by Chapin and Colescott." The 352 page catalogue has 415 color illustrations. The Prints of Warrington a rarity in the field of African American art where very few titles (a catalogue raisonné) of this nature exist. This catalogue is the companion to the Milwaukee Art Museum's exhibition, Warrington Colescott: Cabaret, Comedy, and Satire, which is on view through September 26, 2010. For more details on the exhibit, visit  

  • Reich, Megan Lykins. Iona Rozeal Brown. Ostfildern, Germany: Hatje Cantz Verlag, 2010. € 29.80 (converts to approximately $35.66)

This catalogue was published in conjunction with the exhibition, Iona Rozeal Brown: All Falls Down at the Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland from January 29 - May 9, 2010. Consisting of 96 pages with 43 color illustrations, the texts is by Megan Lykins Reich,and there is an interview by Isolde Brielmaier with the artist. Iona Rozeal Brown "examines the struggle of young women to claim and exclaim their authentic selves. Through visually stunning and conceptually rich figurative paintings, Brown creates a complex, fantastical mythology that combines folklore, pop culture, autobiography, sociology, and art history."

Because this is a European publication, the U.S. price may vary at your local retailer. 

  • Vendryes, Margaret Rose. Beyond the Blues: Reflections of African America in the Fine Arts Collection of the Amistad Research Center. New Orleans: Amistad Research Center and New Orleans Museum of Art, 2010. $24.95
Limited to 1,000 copies, this catalogue accompanies the Beyond the Blues: Reflections of African America in the Fine Arts Collection of the Amistad Research Center exhibition which was organized by the New Orleans Museum of Art and the Amistad Research Center. The exhibition is on view through July 11, 2010. The Amistad Research Center is located on the Tulane University campus in New Orleans and is "the nation's largest independent archive specializing in the history of African Americans and other ethnic groups. A lesser-known aspect of the Center is its extraordinary collection paintings, sculpture, and works on paper dating from the nineteenth century to the present day." This catalogue presents, for the first time, approximately 300 of these works. For more information on the exhibition, visit:

  • King-Hammonds, Leslie. Hughie Lee-Smith. San Francisco: Pomegranate, 2010. $35.00

Hughie Lee-Smith is the eighth volume in the David Driskell Series of African American Art.
This book presents nearly sixty color plates from the artist's oeuvre. "The author, Leslie King Hammond, considers the powerful experiences that shaped Lee-Smith's visions, while a comprehensive chronology by Aiden Faust further inform the context of the artist's work." Hughie Lee-Smith includes historical family photographs and excerpts from Lee-Smith's own writings.    

  •  Gaines, Malik and others. Mark Bradford: Merchant Posters. New York and Aspen: Gregory R. Miller and Company and Aspen Art Museum, 2010. $50.00

This fully illustrated catalogue gathers for the first time an extensive selection of Mark Bradford's gorgeous, searing and heavily textured merchant posters. Bradford describes himself as a builder and demolisher. “The original printed posters, collected by Bradford from around his Central Los Angeles neighborhood, are brightly colored local advertisements that target the area's vulnerable lower-income residents. For Bradford, they serve as both the formal and conceptual underpinnings of his works on paper, décollages/collages that engage with the pressures of the cityscape. ‘The sheer density of advertising creates a psychic mass, an overlay that can sometimes be very tense or aggressive,’he notes; ‘If there's a 20-foot wall with one advertisement for a movie about war, then you have the repetition of the same image over and over— war, violence, explosions, things being blown apart. As a citizen, you have to participate in that every day. You have to walk by until it's changed.’” Note that this is the first large-scale publication by a major publisher about the work of this important and increasingly influential artist who is a 2009 MacArthur Fellow. 

 Mark Bradford  was on view at the Aspen Art Museum from February 11 through April 4, 2010. 

  • Sims, Lowery Stokes. William T. Williams: Variations on Themes. College Park, Maryland: David C. Driskell Center, 2010. $20.00
This catalogue (62 pages) was published in conjunction with the William T. Williams: Variations on Themes exhibition curated by Lowery Stokes Sims and organized by the David C. Driskell Center from March 31 through May 28, 2010. In addition to two essays, one by Sims and the second by Marshall N. Price, there are images featuring the 31 original lithographs, works on paper, and sculptures in the exhibit. William T. Williams: Variations on Themes was on view from March 31 through May 28, 2010. "Williams, who emerged in New York City during the 1960s and 1970s, is one of the most important artists working in abstraction today. He often incorporates childhood memories and life experiences into his artwork through colors, shapes and patterns. The exhibition illustrates Williams’ artistic journey, which has been as spontaneous as it has been methodical; as formal as it was free-wielding; as rich as it has been sparse." 

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