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Exhibiting Blackness: African Americans and the American Art Museum Paperback – September 23, 2011


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: University of Massachusetts Press (September 23, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1558498753
  • ISBN-13: 978-1558498754
  • Product Dimensions: 8.9 x 6.2 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #627,620 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

An important and original contribution to the study of the history of American art museums and American culture.... Cooks not only demonstrates her thesis but also develops a useful perspective for studying the history of the deeply troubled relationship between African Americans and American art museums.

(Alan Wallach, author of Exhibiting Contradiction: Essays on the Art Museum in the United States (University of Massachusetts Press))

One of the pleasures of reading Exhibiting Blackness is that it holds previous curators and administrators to account, and invites a critical methodological approach that is refreshing in a field that tends to be overly cautious and conservative.

(Jennifer A. González, author of Subject to Display: Reframing Race in Contemporary Installation Art)

In Professor Cooks' lengthy discussion of the many issues surrounding [the Harlem on My Mind art exhibit], she manages to touch on all the many issues facing black visual artists: Are they artists first, or black first? Should their work speak to what being black in a racist society means, or should it speak to more personal demons? And, most importantly, do these one-time exhibitions just give the white world a chance to say, look what we did for you in 1969, with no intention of having black artists shown again in the art institutions they control.

(Fred Beauford Neworld Review)

Exhibiting Blackness grants readers an understanding of the history of exhibitions of art by African Americans, but also of the cultural anxieties and misperceptions that have surrounded them. Recommended.

(Choice)

Over the course of about 200 pages, Bridget R. Cooks lovingly and critically maps out a well-read course of African American art exhibitions in the 20th and early 21st century.

(...might be good)

This book convincingly exposes the history of the contentious power relationship between African American artists and the mainstream art world that persists into the 21st century.

(Journal of African American History)

From the Back Cover

In 1927, the Chicago Art Institute presented the first major museum exhibition of art by African Americans. Designed to demonstrate the artists' abilities and to promote racial equality, the exhibition also revealed the art world's anxieties about the participation of African Americans in the exclusive venue of art museums -- places where blacks had historically been barred from visiting let alone exhibiting. Since then, America's major art museums have served as crucial locations for African Americans to protest against their exclusion and attest to their contributions in the visual arts.

In Exhibiting Blackness, art historian Bridget R. Cooks analyzes the curatorial strategies, challenges, and critical receptions of the most significant museum exhibitions of African American art. Tracing two dominant methodologies used to exhibit art by African Americans -- an ethnographic approach that focuses more on artists than their art, and a recovery narrative aimed at correcting past omissions -- Cooks exposes the issues involved in exhibiting cultural difference that continue to challenge art history, historiography, and American museum exhibition practices. By further examining the unequal and often contested relationship between African American artists, curators, and visitors, she provides insight into the complex role of art museums and their accountability to the cultures they represent.


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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Adrienne Childs on October 22, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Cooks has given a thoughtful and revealing history of many of this century's most important exhibitions of "black" art or art by African Americans. It is important to understand the fact that these exhibitions, the art, the players and the politics were a major factor in the development of the field of African American art in the twentieth century. The artists that were featured, the books that were generated established a place for art by African Americans in an art world largely inhospitable. This kind of study goes hand in hand with the study of the artists and the themes of African American Art.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Louise Scheele Elling on October 22, 2012
Format: Paperback
Bridget Cooks is an amazing writer, a thourough scholar and a senior in her field. I have followed her career with great interest; she never seize to surprise and enlighten me. I feel I know a great deal more about art and the US after reading her book.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By scooter on February 28, 2012
Format: Paperback
This book has been enlightening in discovering my ancestral struggle. It has helped me understand why my parents and grandparents think and behave the way they do- especially in regards to Whites and mainstream society. Exhibiting Blackness is comprehensible and elicits new ideas that challenges my thinking process.
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