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Black Art (World of Art)

A Cultural History

Richard J. Powell


A groundbreaking book that explores the visual representations of black culture across the globe throughout the twentieth century and into the twenty-first

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The African diaspora – a direct result of the transatlantic slave trade and Western colonialism – has generated a wide array of artistic achievements, from blues and reggae, to the paintings of the pioneering African American artist Henry Ossawa Tanner and video creations of contemporary hip-hop artists. This book concentrates on how these works, often created during times of major social upheaval and transformation, use black culture both as a subject and as context. From musings on “the souls of black folk” in late nineteenth-century art, to questions of racial and cultural identities in performance, media, and computer-assisted arts in the twenty-first century, this book examines the philosophical and social forces that have shaped a black presence in modern and contemporary visual culture.

Now updated, this new edition helps us understand better how the first two decades of the twenty-first century have been a transformative moment in which previous assumptions about race, difference, and identity have been irrevocably altered, with art providing a useful lens through which to think about these compelling issues.

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'With this new edition, the formidable Powell has achieved something that seemed impossible: making this landmark book more indispensable than ever'
Thelma Golden, Director and Chief Curator of The Studio Museum in Harlem, New York City

'Powell's writing provides that rare combination of being comprehensive and contemporary, expressed with such clarity … Black Art’s relevance is undiminished'
Zoé Whitley, Director, Chisenhale Gallery

'Excellent artists’ profiles, lots of reproductions, and illuminating and original discussions of the social and cultural contexts and implications'

'Significantly advances the discourse on black art and culture'
International Review of African American Art

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Product Information

Book Details

Format: Paperback

Edition Type: Third edition

Size: 21.0 x 15.0 cm

Extent: 360 pp

Illustrations: 218

Publication date: 30 September 2021

ISBN: 9780500204665

Contents List

Introduction: The Dark Centre
1. Art, Culture and “the Souls of Black Folk”
2. Enter and Exit the “New Negro”
3. The Cult of the People
4. Pride, Assimilation, and Dreams
5. “Black is a Colour”
6. Culture as Currency
7. Through a Glass, Diasporally
8. Fin-de-Siècle Blues
9. The Price of Blackness
Bibliographical Notes
Select Bibliography and Sources
List of Illustrations 00 Index

About the Author

Richard J. Powell is the John Spencer Bassett Professor of Art and Art History at Duke University, Durham, North Carolina, where he has taught since 1989. His publications include: The Blues Aesthetic: Black Culture and Modernism; Cutting a Figure: Fashioning Black Portraiture; Going There: Black Visual Satire; and Homecoming: The Art and Life of William H. Johnson. From 2007 until 2010, Powell was Editor-in-Chief of The Art Bulletin.