ARH 391 Black Art Now: Artists of African Descent in the 20th Century

What does it mean to be a “Black” artist? What does “Black” art look like? Who gets to use such terms and for what purposes? These are questions that have long challenged, frustrated, and motivated artists of African descent, especially within Eurocentric contexts of art world capitals like Paris, New York, and London. Students in this course will engage with the work of a broad array of artists of African descent, including those active in the Harlem Renaissance, navigating the Parisian “primitivism” fad, contributing to major artistic trends of Surrealism and Abstract Expressionism, and engaging politically with the Black Power movement and others of the 1960s and 70s. As a class, we will explore how artists have found agency and addressed their African heritage – or not – and how their identity positions have related to the socio-cultural contexts in which their work has been subject to marginalization, categorization, and valorization.