A fascinating story of the changing image of Africa's people in Western art. The images are simply extraordinary and the scholarship inspiring. Anyone who cares about Western art or about Africa and her diaspora ought to know these magnificent volumes. (Kwame Anthony Appiah)
In addition to being an indispensable guide to the evolving meanings of racial difference, these dazzling volumes filled with extraordinary images and rich arguments contribute to an alternative history of the Western world. An invaluable gift for both specialists and general readers. (Paul Gilroy, author of The Black Atlantic: Modernity and Double Consciousness
One of the most thorough collections depicting the African-American in works of art...The books build on the research and photo project started by art patron Dominique de Menil in the 1960s, which grew out of a frustration with segregation. The collection was then transferred and continued to grow at the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute at Harvard University. De Menil's original volumes have been updated by David Bindman and Henry Louis Gates Jr. and now include more detailed descriptions and provide a larger context of the artwork that spans more than 5,000 years, including the Roman Empire to present-day pieces, filling in tremendous gaps in de Menil's collection, according to some art historians. The images, printed in full-color on high-quality pages, are available for the masses to see and understand how African-Americans not only fit into the various societies of the Western world, but how those relationships evolved throughout the ages. (Kirkus Reviews
The volumes so far are a treasury of paintings and sculptures of people down the ages, taking in many strands of ritual, classicism, artlessness and humanity. (William Feaver Spectator
A sumptuous new edition with much additional material and copious color pictures....The books are a wonderful resource: a glitteringly decorated window into the Du Bois Institute's unrivalled archive of relevant images. The accompanying essays, which are models of erudition, are inescapable reading for anyone interested in the subject. (Felipe Fernández-Armesto The Art Newspaper
In his fresh introduction for volume 1, Jeremy Tanner, Greek and Roman art/archaeology specialist, recontextualizes the text and images in the original volume of this work in light of the explosion of scholarship examining the notions of race and identity as constructed historically and in the present. Tanner's well-researched, critical essay offers a rich bibliography of the literature on the subject of race and representation in ancient art...The high-quality color images that have replaced black-and-white images, and the more richly textured black-and-white images, all printed on good quality art stock paper, help to reinforce arguments where color symbolism is deemed critically important. (K. Mason Choice
Monumental and groundbreaking volumes...[with] beautifully reproduced and thought-provoking images…A vast array of different "Images of the Black" appear in these volumes, from statues of black saints such as St. Maurice or St. Benedict the Moor, to portraits of notable African ambassadors and kings, poets and musicians, or drawings of literary characters such as Shakespeare's Othello, Aphra Behn's Oroonoko, or Yarico from George Colman's Inkle and Yarico...Africans have been painted and sculpted by some of the most eminent artists in the Western tradition, including Titian, Tiepolo, Rubens, Rembrandt,Van Dyck, Reynolds, Hogarth, Watteau and Gainsborough. More importantly, they have not been caricatured, but sensitively portrayed by these masters, their humanity captured on canvas for all to see...In placing such a vast variety of different images together, both positive and negative, these volumes show that the "Image of the Black" was not at all homogenous but rather reflected the wide range of the Western response to the "other."...Seen through the prism of "Western Art," these "Images of the Black" often tell us more about the Europeans and their agendas than the Africans they portray. Nonetheless, the cumulative effect of the images is to demonstrate a continuous black presence in the Western imagination and experience…This series will pose new questions to scholars of art, history and literature and provoke us all to reconsider the role of "the Black" in Western civilization. (Miranda Kaufmann Times Literary Supplement
David Bindman is Emeritus Professor of the History of Art at University College London.
Henry Louis Gates, Jr., is Alphonse Fletcher University Professor and is the Director of the W. E. B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research at Harvard University.
Frank M. Snowden, Jr., was Professor of Classics, Emeritus, at Howard University.