Monday, July 21, 2014

Black Art Project (BAP) Booklist 6

This is the sixth in a continuing series, highlighting either recently published books or those that are forthcoming, that have an African American art focus. When building a personal library that has some focus on African American visual art, it is advisable to make your book purchases shortly after the book or catalogue has been published. Making an early purchase more readily assures you that the titles you are interested in have not gone out of print. When a title does go out of print, the secondary market becomes a viable option; however, you must then weigh cost and condition differences among the few dealers that may have a copy for sale. I can not over emphasize that fine art books are published in smaller print runs than books in other subject disciplines.

The following post and the addendum of recent publications are simply a few new titles that have been released since the last Booklist, consisting of a compilation of reviews from various publishers' notes and other source materials: 

Archibald Motley: Jazz Age Modernist

The catalogue, Archibald Motley: Jazz Age Modernist, accompanies the first full-scale survey of the work of Archibald Motley and features more than 140 color illustrations. It was on view at the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University from January 30 through May 11, 2014. The catalogue includes an essay by Richard J. Powell, organizer and curator of Archibald Motley: Jazz Age Modernist, as well as contributions from other scholars examining the life, work, and legacy of one of twentieth-century America's most significant artists. After its debut at the Nasher Museum of Art, the exhibition travels to other museums across the country: the Amon Carter Museum of American Art in Fort Worth, Texas; the Los Angeles County Museum of Art; the Chicago Cultural Center; and the Newark Museum.

Archibald John Motley, Jr., was an American painter, master colorist, and radical interpreter of urban culture. Among twentieth-century American artists, Motley is surely one of the most important and, paradoxically, also one of the most enigmatic. Born in New Orleans in 1891, Motley spent the first half of the twentieth century living and working in a predominately white neighborhood on Chicago's South Side, just blocks away from the city's burgeoning black community. During his formative years, Chicago's African American population increased dramatically, and he was both a witness to and a visual chronicler of that expansion. In 1929 he won a Guggenheim Fellowship, which funded a critical year of study in France, where he painted Blues and other memorable pictures of Paris. In the 1950s, Motley made several lengthy visits to Mexico, where his nephew, the well-known novelist Willard F. Motley, lived. While there, Motley created vivid depictions of Mexican life and landscapes. He died in Chicago in 1981.

Motley's brilliant yet idiosyncratic paintings—simultaneously expressionist and social realist—have captured worldwide attention with their rainbow-hued, syncopated compositions. The exhibition includes the artist's depictions of African American life in early-twentieth-century Chicago, as well as his portraits and archetypes, portrayals of African American life in Jazz Age Paris, and renderings of 1950s Mexico. 

This is a publication of the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University.

Barbara Chase-Riboud: The Malcolm X Steles

This catalogue was published by the Philadelphia Museum of Art in association with Yale University Press in 2013. It focuses on Chase-Riboud's monumental series of sculptures dedicated to the assassinated civil rights leader Malcolm X. Begun in 1969, Chase-Riboud's series is explored in terms of developing artistic practice; her travels to China and North Africa; and her experiences in Europe, particularly during the cultural, political, and social upheavals of the 1960s. The volume also includes a fascinating analysis of the Malcolm X sculptures in light of critical debates on abstract art’s role in memorializing the past. 

Beautifully designed and produced, this book presents an illustrated checklist of the 13 sculptures in the series, related drawings and sculptures, and a chronology of Chase-Riboud’s life and career.

Bound to Appear: Art, Slavery, and the Site of Blackness in Multicultural America                                                                      

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.

Ellen Gallagher: Don't Axe ME

Spanning the past twenty years, Don’t Axe Me will provide one of the first opportunities to thoroughly examine the complex formal and
thematic concerns of one of the most significant artists to emerge since the mid-1990s. The title of the exhibition, Don’t Axe Me, evokes her radical approach to image, text, and surface—drawing equally from modernism, mass culture, and social history. This focused survey was at the New Museum and ran concurrently with Gallagher’s exhibition at the Tate Modern, London (May 2013). For the first major New York museum exhibition of her work at New Museum, "Gallagher produced a series of new paintings that both extend her formal and thematic interests and mark a radical new development. Each of the pieces consists of tendril-like formations incised into layers of paint. This complex series is featured in this catalogue along with a booklet of her work from 1993-2009."

Lorna Simpson: Works on Paper

Published on the occasion of her 2013 exhibition at Aspen Art Museum, Lorna Simpson: Works on Paper highlights four recent bodies of work on paper that explore the complex relationship between the photographic archive and processes of self-fashioning, including a new group of works being developed during her time as the Aspen Art Museum's 2013 Jane and Marc Nathanson Distinguished Artist in Residence. As in Simpson's earlier works, these new drawings and collages take the African-American woman as a point of departure, continuing her longstanding examination of the ways that gender and culture shape the experience of life in our contemporary multiracial society. This beautifully illustrated catalogue features new scholarship by a number of contributors, such as New Yorker staff writer Hilton Als, MoMA Chief Curator of Drawings, Connie Butler, LACMA Chief Curator of Contemporary Art, Franklin Sirmans, and others.
San Francisco Lithographer: African American Artist Grafton Tyler Brown 

In this biography, Robert J. Chandler focuses on Grafton Tyler Brown’s
lithography and his life in nineteenth-century San Francisco, offering a study equally fascinating as a business and cultural history and as an
introduction to Brown the artist.

Chandler’s contextualization of Brown’s career goes beyond the issue of
race. Showing how Brown survived and flourished as a businessman,

Chandler offers unique insight into the growth of printing and publishing in California and the West. He examines the rise of lithography, its commercial and cultural importance, and the competition among lithographic companies. He also analyzes Brown’s work and style, comparing it to the products of rival firms. 

Brown was not respected as a fine artist until after his death. Collectors of western art and Americana now recognize the importance of California and of Brown’s work, some of which depicts Portland and the Pacific Northwest, and they will find Chandler’s checklist, descriptions, and reproductions of Brown’s ephemera—including billheads and maps—as uniquely valuable as Chandler’s contribution to the cultural and commercial history of California. In an afterword, historian Shirley Ann Wilson Moore discusses the circumstances and significance of passing in nineteenth-century America.

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