1971: A Year in the Life of Color

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9780226131054: 1971: A Year in the Life of Color

In this book, art historian Darby English explores the year 1971, when two exhibitions opened that brought modernist painting and sculpture into the burning heart of United States cultural politics: Contemporary Black Artists in America, at the Whitney Museum of American Art, and The DeLuxe Show, a racially integrated abstract art exhibition presented in a renovated movie theater in a Houston ghetto.

1971: A Year in the Life of Color looks at many black artists’ desire to gain freedom from overt racial representation, as well as their efforts—and those of their advocates—to further that aim through public exhibition. Amid calls to define a “black aesthetic,” these experiments with modernist art prioritized cultural interaction and instability. Contemporary Black Artists in America highlighted abstraction as a stance against normative approaches, while The DeLuxe Show positioned abstraction in a center of urban blight. The importance of these experiments, English argues, came partly from color’s special status as a cultural symbol and partly from investigations of color already under way in late modern art and criticism. With their supporters, black modernists—among them Peter Bradley, Frederick Eversley, Alvin Loving, Raymond Saunders, and Alma Thomas—rose above the demand to represent or be represented, compromising nothing in their appeals for interracial collaboration and, above all, responding with optimism rather than cynicism to the surrounding culture’s preoccupation with color.

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About the Author:

Darby English is the Carl Darling Buck Professor of Art History at the University of Chicago. He is the author of How to See a Work of Art in Total Darkness.

Review:

“[An] attractive volume. . . . English offers a dynamic and comprehensive study of colour as a sociopolitical tool, and how this affected the way that colour was more widely negotiated by the wider cultural context.” (Aesthetica)

1971 clears space for art historians, curators, and cultural producers to complicate black artists’ participation in modernism as a multicultural process, not as a separate or oppositional endeavor. . . . [This book] captures quite concretely a shared moment in the art world when color defied any singular narrative.” (Hyperallergic)

"English argues that modern art in the form of abstraction gave black artists the intellectual freedom to develop beyond the confines of thematic representations of African American history and allowed artists to present their work to those it appealed to and who dared to encounter it. Through this critical analysis, he gives a different perspective to color painting—a more diverse narrative, one determined to give a public face and a voice to those artists politically informed and forced to evolve by circumstance." (ARLIS/NA Reviews)

“More than a study of African American engagement with modernist aesthetics, Darby English’s 1971: A Year in the Life of Color is an intelligent and provocative call for the necessity of abstraction, idiosyncrasy, and unexpected forms of rebellion in the production of art and the development of cultural studies. English crosses the most sacrosanct ideological boundaries as he argues for the necessity of untamed and previously unimagined forms of creativity.” (Robert F. Reid-Pharr, CUNY Graduate Center)

1971: A Year in the Life of Color is a powerful, polemical, and much-needed work. It forces us to rethink the terms of politics and abstraction, African American art, representation, and modernism in a way that is at once historically rigorous and theoretically expansive, no small thing indeed.” (Pamela M. Lee, Stanford University)

“What is more urgently demanded, for current art and its histories, than the rethinking of how activism, identity, and art interact? Perhaps only an understanding of the particular complexity of black American identity, which in 1971: A Year in the Life of Color reveals a radical oppositionality within modernism that many had already given up on. Profoundly lucid, intensely felt, archivally deep, and utterly persuasive, English’s book reorients our understanding of both that time and our own.” (Rachel Haidu, University of Rochester)

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Book Description The University of Chicago Press, United States, 2016. Hardback. Book Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. Art historian Darby English is celebrated for working against the grain and plumbing gaps in historical narratives. In this book, he explores the year 1971, when two exhibitions opened that brought modernist painting and sculpture into the burning heart of black cultural politics: Contemporary Black Artists in America, shown at the Whitney Museum of American Art, and The DeLuxe Show, an integrated abstract art exhibition presented in a renovated movie theater in a Houston ghetto.1971 takes an insightful look at many black artists desire to gain freedom from overt racial representation, as well as their and their advocates efforts to further that aim through public exhibitions. Amid calls to define a black aesthetic or otherwise settle the race question, these experiments with modernist art favored cultural interaction and instability. Contemporary Black Artists in America highlighted abstraction as a stance against normative approaches, while The DeLuxe Show positioned abstraction in a center of urban blight. The power and social importance of these experiments, English argues, came partly from color s special status as a racial metaphor and partly from investigations of color that were underway in formalist American art and criticism. From Frank Bowling to Virginia Jaramillo, Sam Gilliam to Peter Bradley, black modernists and their supporters rose above the demand to represent or be represented, compromising nothing in their appeals for racial reconciliation. At a time when many debates about identity sought closure, these exhibitions offered openings; when icons and slogans touted simple solutions, they chose difficulty. But above all, as English demonstrates in this provocative book, these exhibitions and artists responded with optimism rather than cynicism to the surrounding culture s preoccupation with color. Bookseller Inventory # AAH9780226131054

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Book Description The University of Chicago Press, United States, 2016. Hardback. Book Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. Art historian Darby English is celebrated for working against the grain and plumbing gaps in historical narratives. In this book, he explores the year 1971, when two exhibitions opened that brought modernist painting and sculpture into the burning heart of black cultural politics: Contemporary Black Artists in America, shown at the Whitney Museum of American Art, and The DeLuxe Show, an integrated abstract art exhibition presented in a renovated movie theater in a Houston ghetto.1971 takes an insightful look at many black artists desire to gain freedom from overt racial representation, as well as their and their advocates efforts to further that aim through public exhibitions. Amid calls to define a black aesthetic or otherwise settle the race question, these experiments with modernist art favored cultural interaction and instability. Contemporary Black Artists in America highlighted abstraction as a stance against normative approaches, while The DeLuxe Show positioned abstraction in a center of urban blight. The power and social importance of these experiments, English argues, came partly from color s special status as a racial metaphor and partly from investigations of color that were underway in formalist American art and criticism. From Frank Bowling to Virginia Jaramillo, Sam Gilliam to Peter Bradley, black modernists and their supporters rose above the demand to represent or be represented, compromising nothing in their appeals for racial reconciliation. At a time when many debates about identity sought closure, these exhibitions offered openings; when icons and slogans touted simple solutions, they chose difficulty. But above all, as English demonstrates in this provocative book, these exhibitions and artists responded with optimism rather than cynicism to the surrounding culture s preoccupation with color. Bookseller Inventory # AAH9780226131054

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