Cover: The Image of the Black in Western Art, Volume V: The Twentieth Century, Part 1: The Impact of Africa, from Harvard University PressCover: The Image of the Black in Western Art, Volume V: The Twentieth Century, Part 1: The Impact of Africa in HARDCOVER

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

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$106.00 • £92.95 • €96.95

ISBN 9780674052673

Publication Date: 02/24/2014


320 pages

195 color illustrations, 25 halftones

Belknap Press

The Image of the Black in Western Art > Volume V: The Twentieth Century


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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, The New York Times

This is the first part of the fifth volume in a series that has profound and moral depth—the cumulative effect of all the books in the series is to see the ways in which ethics, aesthetics, and looking are entwined, and the ways in which they are made even more complicated by culture and by class.—Hilton Als, The New Yorker online

A major accomplishment of art history, the fifth volume of this seminal series moves into the 20th century. Founded by art patron Dominique Schlumberger de Menil in the 1960s, the collection and subsequent series of books are intended as a ‘subtle bulwark and living testimony against antiblack racism’ through the exploration of representations of black people in Western art. This latest volume, edited by the influential scholars Bindman and Gates, looks broadly at the 20th‐century shifts in representation of Africa and people of African heritage in Western visual art (most often by white artists), including the significant influence African art exerted on modernism. The essays by esteemed academics range in topic from photography in the 19th century to Josephine Baker in Paris and the Negritude French literary movement. Without exception, the texts twine together research, image, and insight in a gracefully readable exploration of a complex topic. The series on a whole is truly indispensable and this particular volume offers an incredibly dynamic tour through Western history, racial difference, and visual art, all informing one another in ways often invisible as we study those subjects.Publishers Weekly (starred review)

The writing is clear and accessible in this well-illustrated, scholarly volume that’s also suitable for a broader audience. Much of the material covered here, particularly on photography and on non-European representations, will be new to most readers.—Jack Perry, Library Journal (starred review)

Praise for the series:

I also would recommend The Image of the Black in Western Art, which is both expensive and priceless. It’s fascinating to see how black people were viewed before we decided that African ancestry made you, by God or science, property.—Ta-Nehisi Coates, The Atlantic online

Monumental and groundbreaking volumes…[with] beautifully reproduced and thought-provoking images… A vast array of different ‘Images of the Black’ appear in these volumes, from statues of black saints such as St. Maurice or St. Benedict the Moor, to portraits of notable African ambassadors and kings, poets and musicians, or drawings of literary characters such as Shakespeare’s Othello, Aphra Behn’s Oroonoko, or Yarico from George Colman’s Inkle and Yarico… Africans have been painted and sculpted by some of the most eminent artists in the Western tradition, including Titian, Tiepolo, Rubens, Rembrandt, Van Dyck, Reynolds, Hogarth, Watteau and Gainsborough. More importantly, they have not been caricatured, but sensitively portrayed by these masters, their humanity captured on canvas for all to see… In placing such a vast variety of different images together, both positive and negative, these volumes show that the ‘Image of the Black’ was not at all homogenous but rather reflected the wide range of the Western response to the ‘other.’ …Seen through the prism of ‘Western Art,’ these ‘Images of the Black’ often tell us more about the Europeans and their agendas than the Africans they portray. Nonetheless, the cumulative effect of the images is to demonstrate a continuous black presence in the Western imagination and experience… This series will pose new questions to scholars of art, history and literature and provoke us all to reconsider the role of ‘the Black’ in Western civilization.—Miranda Kaufmann, The Times Literary Supplement

The Image of the Black in Western Art [is] a truly epic project… The series, scheduled for completion in 2014, is, so far, as eye-opening to view as it is to read and, one volume at a time, could be the answer to gift gifting for several years to come.—Holland Cotter, The New York Times

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.—Kwame Anthony Appiah

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.—Paul Gilroy, author of The Black Atlantic: Modernity and Double Consciousness

Praise for the previous edition:

One concludes from these pioneering volumes that artistic representations were historical ‘events’ that eventually helped to shape a mentality that justified the enslavement of millions of Africans as well as later attempts to Christianize and liberate their descendants.—David Brion Davis, The New York Review of Books

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