One of the youngest recipients of a MacArthur “genius” grant, Kara Walker, an African American artist, is best known for her iconic, often life-size, black-and-white silhouetted figures, arranged in unsettling scenes on gallery walls. These visually arresting narratives draw viewers into a dialogue about the dynamics of race, sexuality, and violence in both the antebellum South and contemporary culture. Walker’s work has been featured in exhibits around the world and in American museums including the Museum of Modern Art, the Guggenheim, and the Whitney. At the same time, her ideologically provocative images have drawn vociferous criticism from several senior African American artists, and a number of her pieces have been pulled from exhibits amid protests against their disturbing representations. Seeing the Unspeakable provides a sustained consideration of the controversial art of Kara Walker.
Examining Walker’s striking silhouettes, evocative gouache drawings, and dynamic prints, Gwendolyn DuBois Shaw analyzes the inspiration for and reception of four of Walker’s pieces: The End of Uncle Tom and the Grand Allegorical Tableau of Eva in Heaven, John Brown, A Means to an End, and Cut. She offers an overview of Walker’s life and career, and contextualizes her art within the history of African American visual culture and in relation to the work of contemporary artists including Faith Ringgold, Carrie Mae Weems, and Michael Ray Charles. Shaw describes how Walker deliberately challenges viewers’ sensibilities with radically de-sentimentalized images of slavery and racial stereotypes. This book reveals a powerful artist who is questioning, rather than accepting, the ideas and strategies of social responsibility that her parents’ generation fought to establish during the civil rights era. By exploiting the racist icons of the past, Walker forces viewers to see the unspeakable aspects of America’s racist past and conflicted present.
The Museum of Modern Art has one of the greatest collections of 20th-century photography in the world. As one of three volumes dedicated to a new history of photography published by the Museum, this publication comprises a comprehensive catalogue of the collection post-1960s and brings much-needed new critical perspective to the most prominent artists working with the photographic medium of the late 20th and early 21st centuries. At a moment when photography is undergoing fast-paced changes and artists are seeking to redefine its boundaries in new and exciting ways, Photography at MoMA serves as an excellent resource for understanding the expanded field of contemporary photography today.
The book begins with an in-depth introduction followed by eight chapters of full-color plates, each introduced by a short essay. Over 250 artists are featured, including Diane Arbus, John Baldessari, Jan Dibbets, Rineke Dijkstra, William Eggleston, Lee Friedlander, Louise Lawler, Zoe Leonard, Helen Levitt, Sigmar Polke, Cindy Sherman, Wolfgang Tillmans, Jeff Wall, Carrie Mae Weems, Hannah Wilke and Garry Winogrand, among many others.
Radical Presence chronicles the emergence of black performance practices in contemporary art. Where hegemony has tended to define black performance art as an extension of theater, this publication provides a critical framework for discussing the history of black performance within the visual arts over the last 50 years. Over five decades of performance art practices by such artists as Benjamin Patterson, David Hammons, Senga Nengudi, Lorraine O’Grady, Adrian Piper and Ulysses Jenkins are presented along representatives of subsequent generations such as Carrie Mae Weems, William Pope.L, Terry Adkins, Sherman Fleming, Danny Tisdale, Lyle Ashton Harris, Clifford Owens, Kalup Linzy and Adam Pendleton, among others. This publication includes a DVD compilation of performance excerpts and is an essential tool for any understanding of the field.
“Cinema Remixed and Reloaded” is a daring, bold, innovative look at black women artists and video art. This historical survey examines an intriguing and unbounded scope of work, including experimental film, projections, and installations. Creative projects by established artists who became interested in time-based media several decades ago, such as Camille Billops, Barbara McCullough, Howardena Pindell, and Adrian Piper, are presented alongside such midcareer artists as Berni Searle, Lorna Simpson, Kara Walker, and Carrie Mae Weems, who continually garner international acclaim.Works by emerging artists, including Elizabeth Axtman, Debra Edgerton, Lauren Kelley, Jessica Ann Peavy, Pamela Sunstrum, and Lauren Woods, are also featured. While exploring personal experiences and dissecting popular visual culture, the artists in “Cinema Remixed and Reloaded” provide relevant views on several important topics – memory, loss, alienation, racial politics, gender inequities, empowerment, and the pursuit of power.
The Record is the full-color catalog accompanying the groundbreaking exhibition The Record: Contemporary Art and Vinyl, at the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University from September 2, 2010 through February 6, 2011. The first exhibition to explore the culture of vinyl records in the history of contemporary art, The Record features rarely exhibited work and recent and newly commissioned pieces by thirty-three artists from around the world. These artists have taken vinyl records as their subject or medium, producing sound work, sculpture, installation, drawing, painting, photography, video, and performance. Works by well-known artists such as Laurie Anderson, Jasper Johns, Ed Ruscha, and Carrie Mae Weems appear alongside those of other North American artists, and of artists from Africa, Asia, Europe, and Latin America, some of whom have never before exhibited in a U.S. museum. Among the works shown are David Byrne’s original Polaroid photomontage used for the cover of the 1978 Talking Heads album More Songs about Buildings and Food, the fictive soul “album covers” created by the outsider artist Mingering Mike in the late 1960s and early 1970s, and Wheel of Steel (2006), an arresting narrative of record-playing told through digital photos by the South African-born and Berlin-based artist Robin Rhode. In addition to the 225 images, 200 of which appear in color, the catalog includes personal reflections and critical analyses. All of the artists in the exhibition contribute personal statements about their work in relation to the vinyl record, and critics and scholars explore the historical impact of the record on art and music and the ways the medium has helped shape individual and collective identities.
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