CONTEMPORARY ART MOVEMENTS

PUBLISHER
MFA Publications, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

BOOK FORMAT
Clth, 9.5 x 11 in. / 256 pgs / 145 color.

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Catalog: SPRING 2015 p. 67   

PRODUCT DETAILS
ISBN 9780878468157 TRADE
List Price: $50.00 CDN $67.50 GBP £35.00

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MFA PUBLICATIONS, MUSEUM OF FINE ARTS, BOSTON

Common Wealth

Art by African Americans in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Edited with text by Lowery Stokes Sims. Text by Dennis Carr, Janet L. Comey, Elliot Bostwick Davis, Aiden Faust, Nonie Gadsden, Edmund Barry Gaither, Karen Haas, Erica E. Hirshler, Kelly Hays L'Ecuyer, Taylor L. Poulin, Karen Quinn.

Common WealthThe story of African Americans in the visual arts has closely paralleled their social, political and economic aspirations over the last 400 years. From enslaved craftspersons to contemporary painters, printmakers and sculptors, African American artists have created a wealth of artistic expression that addresses common experiences, such as exclusion from dominant cultural institutions, and confronts questions of identity and community. This generously illustrated volume gathers more than 100 works of art in a variety of media by leading figures from the nineteenth century to the present—among them, Henry Ossawa Tanner, Jacob Lawrence, Romare Bearden, Lois Mailou Jones, Gordon Parks, Wifredo Lam, Kara Walker, Glenn Ligon and Kerry James Marshall—alongside many others who deserve to be better known, including artists from the African diaspora in South America and the Caribbean. Arranged thematically and featuring authoritative texts that provide historical and interpretive context, Common Wealth invites readers to share in a rich outpouring of art that meets shared challenges with individual creative responses.

Featured image is reproduced from Common Wealth.

Common Wealth

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FROM THE ARTBOOK BLOG

CORY REYNOLDS | DATE 2/5/2015

Common Wealth

Common Wealth

"Family Group" (c. 1950) by the Harlem Renaissance painter, sculptor, illustrator, muralist and teacher Charles Alston, is reproduced from Common Wealth: Art by African Americans in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, in which Lowery Stokes Sims writes, "There are many who think that perhaps one of the most monumental achievements of Africans in the Americas was their ability to retain a sense of familial connection within the context of slavery, which conspired to destroy those relationships. In fact, Africans in the New World had to construct new familial structures that were markedly different from those found throughout Africa. For example, polygamy, which was widespread in Africa, was exchanged for the monogamous ideal of Western Christianity. Also, the social castes of Africa that were predicated on descent were replaced by caste systems that were based on color, hair texture, and—eventually—education. The character of these new structures would then define the nature of the social systems that would come to dominate the lives of African Americans in their communities outside the white power structure. Given these facts, it is noteworthy that the works by Charles Alston, Sargent Johnson, Romare Bearden, and Waldomiro de Deus focus on the black family in various guises. In Alston’s "Family Group" the presentation of the husband, wife, and child is staid and serious, and his cultivation of simplified forms and flat colors gives him the means to convey information about the relationship among the
three figures. Alston uses the flow of limbs and clothing to create a continuous flow of connection. He suggests the strength of the family unit by setting the figures in front of a screen that conveys a strong backdrop that mirrors the connection among the figures. Alston subtly shifts the perspective of the rectangular shapes of that form and the table so that the intensity of the visual focus stays in the front of the picture plane." continue to blog


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