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Volume V: The Image of the Black in Western Art, The Twentieth Century, Part 1: The Impact of Africa

Volume V: The Image of the Black in Western Art, The Twentieth Century, Part 1: The Impact of Africa

Edited by David Bindman and Henry Louis Gates, Jr.

ISBN 9780674052673

Publication date: 02/24/2014

In the 1960s, art patrons Dominique and Jean de Menil founded an image archive showing the ways that people of African descent have been represented in Western art from the ancient world to modern times. Highlights from the image archive, accompanied by essays written by major scholars, appeared in three large-format volumes, consisting of one or more books, that quickly became collector's items. A half-century later, Harvard University Press and the Du Bois Institute are proud to have republished five of the original books and to present five completely new ones, extending the series into the twentieth century.

The Impact of Africa, the first of two books on the twentieth century, looks at changes in the Western perspective on African art and the representation of Africans, and the paradox of their interpretation as simultaneously "primitive" and "modern." The essays include topics such as the new medium of photography, African influences on Picasso and on Josephine Baker's impression of 1920s Paris, and the influential contribution of artists from the Caribbean and Latin American diasporas.


  • With the publication of the fifth volume, concentrating on the 20th century, [this series] has become a necessary cultural resource documenting the visual construction of blackness over the past 5,000 years. This latest and perhaps last volume—subdivided into two parts, The Impact of Africa and The Rise of Black Artists—redirects the underlying colonialist, Eurocentric framing of the previous four volumes. The co-editors, David Bindman and Henry Louis Gates Jr., bring focus to black artists globally as makers of their own art and imagery, rather than solely the subjects of others’ fantasies and fascination… Laudatory in its scope, notable for the high quality of its essays and, in terms of reproduction quality, impressively illustrated, The Image of the Black in Western Art: Volume V should have wide popular and scholarly appeal.

    —Claudia Rankine, New York Times


  • David Bindman is Professor of the History of Art, Emeritus, at University College London.
  • Henry Louis Gates, Jr., is the author of numerous books and has written extensively on the history of race and anti-Black racism in the Enlightenment. His most recent works include Stony the Road and The Black Church. He is the Alphonse Fletcher University Professor and Director of the Hutchins Center for African and African American Research at Harvard University.

Book Details

  • 320 pages
  • Belknap Press
  • Associate editor Karen C. C. Dalton