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

Edited by David Bindman and Henry Louis Gates, Jr. . Harvard/Belknap, $95 (320p) ISBN 978-0-674-05267-3
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 (The African American Century), 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. Color illus. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 04/28/2014
Release date: 02/01/2014
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