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.