The Art of History
178 pages, 7 x 10
Paperback
Release Date:01 Mar 2002
ISBN:9780813530222
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The Art of History

African American Women Artists Engage the Past

Rutgers University Press

“This important study is the first to confront head-on the avoidance of the visual that has plagued black studies in the United States. The Art of History opens the often hermetic world of black visual culture to a much broader realm in which questions central to contemporary feminism, black studies, and cultural theory are brought to bear.”—Judith Wilson, University of California, Irvine

The Art of History is an important book that expands the significance of visual culture to African American studies debates. It provides cogent and insightful explorations of the work of contemporary African American women artists. Scholars and general readers alike are sure to be compelled by this original and innovative study.”—Valerie Smith, author of Not Just Race, Not Just Gender: Black Feminist Readings

In this lively and engaging book, Lisa Gail Collins examines the work of contemporary African American women artists. Her study comes at a time when an unprecedented number of these artists—photographers, filmmakers, painters, installation and mixed-media artists—have garnered the attention and imagination of the art-viewing public.

To better understand the significance of this particular historical moment in American visual arts, Collins focuses on four “problems” that recur when these artists confront their histories: the documentation of truth; the status of the black female body; the relationship between art and cultural contact and change; and the relationship between art and black girlhood. By examining the social and cultural histories which African American women artists engage, Collins illuminates a dialogue between past and present imagemakers.

The Art of History
is a major contribution to the study of American visual culture. It will be of use to both scholars and students in art history, African American studies, American studies, and women’s studies.

This is a perceptive study of the forthright work of contemporary African American women painters, sculptors, photographers, and installation artists....Why, she asks, has black art remained marginalized while black music and literature thrive? Collins concludes that images, especially portraits, possess a uniquely volatile power, and that the disregard of black art is the result of the ways slavery, ongoing racism, and class conflict have politicized the depictions of African Americans, especially women. Booklist
The Art of History addresses the paradox that African American studies largely neglect the history of art and works by serious visual artists. This contemporary perspective is one of the strongest aspects of the publication, affording insightful analysis of work by a number of exciting artists, accessible and engaging. Library Journal
This important study is the first to confront head-on the avoidance of the visual that has plagued black studies in the United States. The Art of History opens the often hermetic world of black visual culture to a much broader realm in which questions central to contemporary feminism, black studies, and cultural theory are brought to bear. Judith Wilson, University of California, Irvine
The Art of History is an important book that expands the significance of visual culture to African American studies debates. It provides cogent and insightful explorations of the work of contemporary African American women artists. Scholars and general readers alike are sure to be compelled by this original and innovative study. Valerie Smith, author of Not Just Race, Not Just Gender: Black Feminist Readings
A compact and complex publication, The Art of History addresses the paradox that African American studies, while preoccupied with visual culture, largely neglects the history of art and works by serious visual artists...accessible and engaging...authoritative and convincing text. Choice
LISA GAIL COLLINS teaches in the art history department and the Africana studies program at Vassar College.
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