From School Library Journal
Grade 6 Up–The unique place of African-American art in our culture is celebrated in this brightly designed volume, produced in conjunction with the Smithsonian's American Art Museum. Bolden's writing is rich and lyrical. She smoothly incorporates the historical context, explaining pivotal events and relevant artistic movements clearly and succinctly. One notable example is her discussion of the civil rights movement and the formation of Spiral, a group whose members debated the role of their art in the movement, resulting in the 1965 exhibition, Works in Black and White. All of the art is from the museum's collection. The reproductions are of top quality, but in a few instances, a major work of an artist is discussed but not pictured. Also, occasional sidebars or inserts, which feature lengthy biographical sketches and discussions of the artists' work, sometimes interrupt the flow of the text. A glossary of artistic terms, source notes for the original quotes used, and an index complete this welcome addition to art history collections.–Robin L. Gibson, formerly at Perry County District Library, New Lexington, OH
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Gr. 6-12. In her introduction, Bolden writes that her book, published in conjunction with the Smithsonian American Art Museum, is "not meant to be a comprehensive history of the black American artistic legacy." Instead, she offers a beautifully illustrated introduction, in simple, graceful language, to a selection of African American artists, beginning with the nineteenth century and moving to the present. Accompanying each small biography is a box featuring a well-reproduced, representative work from each included artist and a discussion, in clear, succinct language, that will encourage readers to look closely at the images (and visual art in general) and form their own opinions of what they see. A few of the art terms, such as cubism
are vaguely defined, but a planned glossary, unavailable in the galley, will hopefully clear up readers' questions. A time line placing the artists in historical context would also have been welcome, but Bolden's text does a fine job of describing the larger social and political climate in which the artists worked as well as the pervasive discrimination they suffered, and her coverage of early African American cultural organizations, such as the Harlem Artist's Guild, is particularly fascinating. Elegant and concise, this handsome volume joins a growing collection of exceptional youth titles about African American visual artists. Gillian EngbergCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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