A Century of African American Art: The Paul R. Jones Collection

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9780813534565: A Century of African American Art: The Paul R. Jones Collection

The Paul R. Jones Collection is one of the oldest, largest, and most comprehensive holdings of African American art in the world.  Jones, who was named by Art and Antiques as one of the top one hundred collectors in the country, began buying paintings, prints, photographs, and sculpture four decades ago and has now amassed over fifteen hundred works, many of them by well-known artists. Among the sixty-six represented in A Century of African American Art are Romare Bearden, Elizabeth Catlett, Jacob Lawrence, Henry Osawa Tanner, James Van Der Zee, Carrie Mae Weems, and Hale Woodruff.

Lavishly illustrated with over one hundred color photographs, this book provides an important resource for the study of the works included in the Jones collection, the artists who created them, as well as the social and historical contexts that engendered them. The volume brings together ten essays, which examine four issues in American art: portraiture and realism in relation to abstract expressionism, the implications of color, the role of narrative, and the concept of multiple originals. Each essay makes the intentional effort to de-race African American art—not to strip the work of its idiomatic cultural footing, but rather to situate it within the larger picture of the nation’s history and cultural traditions.

Reflecting the diversity of the collection itself, the contributors come from wide-ranging fields including American art, African American art, African art, art conservation, color theory, photography, and sociology.  Together, the eclectic selections make a major contribution to recontextualizing African American scholarship in the broadest sense, while also providing important insights into the Jones collection.

 

Contributors are Marcia R. Cohen, Diana McClintock, Ann Eden Gibson, Winston Kennedy, Debra Hess Norris, Ikem Stanley Okoye, Sharon Pruitt, Carla Williams, and Margaret Andersen.

 

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About the Author:

Amalia K. Amaki is the curator of the Paul R. Jones Collection and an assistant professor of art and Black American studies at the University of Delaware. She is currently writing three books: Freedom Lights the Way: A History of All-Black Shows in America, Posed Pictures: Multiple Readings in the Photographs of Prentice Herman Polk, and Monkeys, Myth, and Mime: The Mature Works of Hale Aspacio Woodruff.

From Booklist:

A Century of African American Art showcases the work of 66 artists found in the seminal collection created by Paul R. Jones. Born in Alabama, Jones was active in the civil rights movement, worked in the White House, and served as a deputy director of the Peace Corps in Thailand. A man of modest means with a great passion for art, Jones sought to both support African American artists and redress the absence of black artists in mainstream museums. And what an eye Jones has. This beautifully produced book presents stellar work by such artists as Romare Bearden, Elizabeth Catlett, Lois Mailou Jones, Betye Saar, and Leo Twiggs, as well as photographs by James VanDerZee, Prentice H. Polk, and Carrie Mae Weems, all accompanied by perceptive essays and useful artist biographies. Donna Seaman
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Published by Rutgers University Press (2004)
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