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 five completely new ones, extending the series into the twentieth century.
The Rise of Black Artists, the second of two books on the twentieth century and the final volume in The Image of the Black in Western Art, marks an essential shift in the series and focuses on representation of blacks by black artists in the West. This volume takes on important topics ranging from urban migration within the United States to globalization, to Négritude and cultural hybridity, to the modern black artist’s relationship with European aesthetic traditions and experimentation with new technologies and media. Concentrating on the United States, Europe, and the Caribbean, essays in this volume shed light on topics such as photography, jazz, the importance of political activism to the shaping of black identities, as well as the post-black art world.
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.
The 10th volume in a 50-year effort to document images of Africans in Western art, Rise focuses on images of blacks by black artists. Though profusely illustrated, it is much more than a picture book, with essays on painting, photography, jazz, performance art and critical analysis of such cultural flash points as the advertising persona Aunt Jemima.
A fascinating story of the changing image of Africa’s people in Western art. The images are simply extraordinary and the scholarship inspiring. Anyone who cares about Western art or about Africa and her diaspora ought to know these magnificent volumes.
In addition to being an indispensable guide to the evolving meanings of racial difference, these dazzling volumes filled with extraordinary images and rich arguments contribute to an alternative history of the Western world. An invaluable gift for both specialists and general readers.
- 368 pages
- Belknap Press
- Associate editor Karen C. C. Dalton
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