Mixed Blessings: Contemporary

Lucy R. Lippard, Author Pantheon Books $50 (278p) ISBN 978-0-394-57759-3
Attempting to examine how Native, African, Asian and Latino Americans ``see themselves and others'' and to analyze ``the ways cross-cultural activity is reflected in the visual arts,'' Lippard ( Overlay: Contemporary Art and the Art of Prehistory ) has compiled a daunting amount of information about the history, religion and aesthetic traditions of these cultures. But she includes so many artists, working in a wide variety of media, that the reader, inundated, tends to lose sight of her broader themes. In the chapter on cultural mixing, for example, Lippard segues from a discussion on tribalism and ethnocentrism to an appreciation of graffiti as a form of creative expression to a brief history of painter Jean-Michel Basquiat. With this excess of data, there is probably something to pique everyone's interest, but readers will have to sift through to find it. Other topics embrace the relationship between primitivism and popular culture, the link between traditional tribal ceremonies and contemporary performance art, and issues of racism and miscegenation. The photographs provide adequate illustration, but the tangential captions distract the reader even further. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 10/01/1990
Release date: 10/01/1990
Paperback - 288 pages - 978-1-56584-573-2
Paperback - 278 pages - 978-0-679-72966-2
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