Better Blackness

December 11, 2012

30 Shades of Black, Visually

Last year, the Corcoran Gallery in Washington, DC, mounted 30 Americans, “a wide-ranging survey of work by many of the most important African American artists of the last three decades. Selected from the Rubell Family Collection, the exhibition brings together seminal figures such as Jean-Michel Basquiat and David Hammons with younger and emerging artists such as Kehinde Wiley and Shinique Smith. Often provocative and challenging, 30 Americans focuses on issues of racial, sexual, and historical identity in contemporary culture. It explores how each artist reckons with the notion of black identity in America, navigating such concerns as the struggle for civil rights, popular culture, and media imagery. At the same time, it highlights artistic legacy and influence, tracing subject matter and formal strategies across generations.”

The irony, of course, is that the Corcoran is a white institution and the works in 30 Americans are all the property of the Rubells. Yes, we’re still in this condition.

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