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African-American Art

A Visual and Cultural History

Lisa Farrington

Publication Date - 11 February 2016

ISBN: 9780199995394

480 pages
7 x 10 inches

In Stock

A complete history of African-American Art


African-American Art: A Visual and Cultural History offers a current and comprehensive history that contextualizes black artists within the framework of American art as a whole. The first chronological survey covering all art forms from colonial times to the present to publish in over a decade, it explores issues of racial identity and representation in artistic expression, while also emphasizing aesthetics and visual analysis to help students develop an understanding and appreciation of African-American art that is informed but not entirely defined by racial identity. Through a carefully selected collection of creative works and accompanying analyses, the text also addresses crucial gaps in the scholarly literature, incorporating women artists from the beginning and including coverage of photography, crafts, and architecture in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries as well as twenty-first century developments. All in all, African American Art: A Visual and Cultural History offers a fresh and compelling look at the great variety of artistic expression found in the African-American community.

Visit www.oup.com/us/farrington for additional support material, including chapter outlines, study questions, links to artists' sites, and other resources to help students succeed.


  • The first comprehensive and contemporary survey of African-American art in over a decade
  • Contextualizes black artists within the framework of American art as a whole, organizing content by art style and historical period
  • Emphasizes critical visual analysis, helping students to develop an understanding and appreciation of factors like process, media, aesthetic concerns, and connections to broader art movements
  • Addresses issues of racial identity and representation and the role of the artist in expressing and challenging these assumptions
  • Integrates coverage of photography and architecture in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, genres often overlooked in African-American art histories
  • Features more African-American women artists than any previous survey incorporating them into the story of African-American art from the very beginning
  • Supported by a free, open-access companion website which includes chapter outlines, links to artist's sites, and other resources to help students succeed

About the Author(s)

Lisa Farrington is the founding Chair of the Art & Music Department at the City University of New York's John Jay College. She is the author of Creating Their Own Image: The History of African-American Women Artists (OUP, 2005).


"African-American Art is engaging and written in a way that will entice students to learn more about the works of art. The coverage and methodology are an improvement over the text I currently use." --Alison Fleming, Winston-Salem State University

"African-American Art integrates styles and artists within the visual culture of the times in which they were created. This allows readers to gain new insights into the way these artists tried to advance their work beyond racial constrictions, labeling, and expectations. As the first new survey of African-American art published in fifteen years, it is certainly welcome in my course." --Naurice Frank Woods, University of North Carolina, Greensboro

"This book will open students' eyes to an incredible range of material and give them a sense of the possibilities for future research. It couches all of this within a highly sophisticated and contemporary methodological framework. African-American Art features more African-American female artists than any previous survey. It engages with traditionally marginalized artistic expressions like architecture. And perhaps, most importantly, it sustains an effort to situate African-American art within mainstream artistic movements so as to critique the very use of 'race' as a methodological framework for African-American art." -- Paul B. Niell, University of North Texas

Table of Contents


    Chapter 1 - The Art of Perception: How Art Communicates
    The Primary Source
    How to Look at Art: A Case Study
    Contextual Analyses
    Key Terms
    Questions for Further Study and Discussion

    Part I: Eighteenth and Nineteenth Century Art

    Chapter 2 - Art and Design in the Colonial Era
    Africanisms in the New World
    Sculptural Art Forms

    Fine Arts in the Age of Slavery
    Key Terms
    Questions for Further Study and Discussion

    Chapter 3 - Federal-Period Architecture & Design
    Charles Paquet
    Early Masters
    Federal Era Craftsmen
    Civil War-Era Craftsmen
    Thomas Day
    Henry Gudgell

    "Dave the Potter" (Dave Drake)
    Thomas Commeraw

    Peter Bentzon
    Textile and Clothing Design
    Early Quilt Making and Makers
    Harriet Powers
    Elizabeth Hobbs Keckley

    Key Terms
    Questions for Further Study and Discussion

    Chapter 4 - Nineteenth Century Neoclassicism
    Edmonia Lewis
    Florville Foy
    Daniel and Eugene Warburg

    Two-Dimensional Art
    Joshua Johnson
    William Simpson
    Julien Hudson
    African-American Women Artists and Friendship Albums
    Jules Lion
    Patrick Henry Reason
    Key Terms
    Questions for Further Study and Discussion

    Chapter 5 - Romanticism to Impressionism in the Nineteenth Century
    The Landscape Tradition
    Robert S. Duncanson
    Grafton Tyler Brown
    Edward Mitchell Bannister
    Portraiture and Figurative Art
    David Bustill Bowser
    Nelson A. Primus
    Henry O. Tanner
    Annie E. Anderson Walker
    James Pressley Ball, Sr.
    Augustus Washington
    Glenalvin, Wallace, and William Goodridge
    Architecture in the Gilded Age
    Calvin Thomas Stowe Brent
    John Anderson and Arthur Edward Lankford
    George Washington Foster, Jr.
    Julian Francis Abele
    Black Vernacular Architecture
    Key Terms
    Questions for Further Study and Discussion

    Part II: Early to Mid-20th Century Art

    Chapter 6 - Modernism and the Harlem Renaissance
    The Making of Harlem
    The Great Migration
    "Harlem: Mecca of the New Negro"
    Supporting the Renaissance: Art Patrons
    Private and Institutional Patronage
    Black Patronage

    Meta Vaux Warrick Fuller
    May Howard Jackson
    Sargent Claude Johnson
    Nancy Elizabeth Prophet
    Richmond Barthé
    William Edouard Scott
    Palmer Hayden
    Archibald Motley, Jr.
    Malvin Gray Johnson
    Aaron Douglas
    William H. Johnson
    Lois Mailou Jones
    Photography & Printmaking
    James Van Der Zee
    James Latimer Allen
    James Lesesne Wells
    King Daniel Ganaway
    Other African-American Photographers
    Key Terms
    Questions for Further Study and Discussion

    Chapter 7 - Social Realism
    The WPA Federal Art Project
    Social Realist Murals
    Charles Alston and the Harlem Hospital Murals
    Hale Woodruff and the Golden State Mutual Murals
    Avant-Garde Architecture
    Augusta Savage, the Harlem Art Centers, and the Harlem Artists Guild
    Selma Hortense Burke
    Chicago Arts and Crafts Guild, Artists Union & South Side Community Art Center
    Margaret Burroughs
    Charles White
    Dox Thrash and the Philadelphia Fine Prints Workshop
    The Printmaking Legacy of Riva Helfond
    Printmakers at Karamu House in Cleveland
    Key Terms
    Questions for Further Study and Discussion

    Chapter 8 - Mid-Twentieth Century Transitions and Surrealism
    Figuration vs. Abstraction: A National Debate
    The Legacy of Social Realism
    Elizabeth Catlett
    Ellis Wilson
    Jacob Lawrence
    Gwendolyn Knight Lawrence
    John Biggers
    Hughie-Lee Smith
    Eldzier Cortor
    Rose Ransier Pipe
    Minnie Evans
    Art Brut and Self-Taught Artists
    Bill (William) Traylor
    William Edmondson
    Clementine Hunter
    Horace Pippin, Jr.
    Gordon Parks
    Roy DeCarava
    Charles (Chuck) Stewart
    Key Terms
    Questions for Further Study and Discussion

    Chapter 9 - Abstract Expressionism
    Action Painting/Gestural Abstraction
    Beauford Delaney
    Norman Lewis
    Alma Thomas
    Color Field Painting
    Sam Gilliam
    Richard Mayhew
    Hard-Edge Painting
    Al Loving
    William T. Williams
    Figurative Expressionism
    Robert (Bob) L. Thompson
    Harold Cousins
    Richard Hunt
    Melvin (Mel) Eugene Edwards, Jr.
    Barbara Chase-Riboud
    Key Terms
    Questions for Further Study and Discussion

    Part III: The Latter 20th Century

    Chapter 10 - Pop and Agitprop: The Black Arts Movement
    Spiral and the Civil Rights Movement
    Reginald Gammon
    Raymond Saunders
    The Black Arts Movement
    Museum Protests
    Benny Andrews
    Cliff Joseph
    The WEUSI Aesthetic
    Ademola Olugebefola
    Ben F. Jones
    James Phillips
    OBAC and the Wall of Respect
    AfriCOBRA and the Black Aesthetic
    Jeffrey Donaldson
    Wadsworth and Jae Jarrell
    Barbara Jones-Hogu
    Nelson Stevens
    The OBAC and AfriCOBRA Legacy: Black Power Murals
    William Walker
    B. Jones and Mitchell Caton
    Agitprop Art
    Dana C. Chandler, Jr.
    Joe Overstreet
    David Hammons

    Key Terms
    Questions for Further Study and Discussion

    Chapter 11 - Black Feminist Art: A Crisis of Race and Sex
    A Crisis of Race and Sex
    WSABAL and WWA
    Black Feminist Artists
    Kay Brown
    Faith Ringgold
    Dindga F. McCannon
    Betye Saar
    Emma Amos
    Nellie Mae Rowe
    Black Feminist Murals
    Vanita Green and Justine Preshé DeVan
    Sharon Haggins Dunn
    Key Terms
    Questions for Further Study and Discussion

    Chapter 12 - Postmodernism
    Fred Eversley
    Lorenzo Pace
    Martin Puryear
    Conceptual Art
    Howardena Pindell
    Pat Ward Williams
    Glen Ligon
    Intermedia Art
    Houston Conwill
    Terry Adkins
    Lorraine O'Grady
    Adrian Piper
    Renee Green
    Fred Wilson
    Martha Jarvis-Jackson
    Assemblage Art
    Noah Purifoy
    John Outterbridge
    Aminah Brenda Lynn Robinson
    Alison Saar
    Willie Cole
    Postmodern Photography
    Carrie Mae Weems
    Dawoud Bey
    Lyle Ashton Harris
    Lorna Simpson

    Key Terms
    Questions for Further Study and Discussion

    Part IV: Contemporary Trends

    Chapter 13 - Neo-Expressionism, the New Abstraction, and Trends in Architecture
    Robert Colescott
    Joyce J. Scott
    Michael Ray Charles
    Kara Walker
    Kerry James Marshall
    Jean-Michel Basquiat
    Danny Simmons, Jr.
    The New Abstraction
    Jack Whitten
    Thornton Dial,
    Mildred Thompson
    Gaye Ellington
    J. Max Bond, Jr.
    Norma Merrick Skalrek
    Mario Gooden and Ray Huff
    Phil Freelon
    The McKissack Legacy
    Other Notable Architects

    Key Terms
    Questions for Further Study and Discussion

    Chapter 14 - "Post-Black" and the New Millennium
    Portraiture and Identity Politics
    Deborah Willis
    Jeff Sonhouse
    Mickalene Thomas
    Kehinde Wiley
    Renée Cox
    Ellen Gallagher
    Laylah Ali
    Sanford Biggers
    Xaviera Simmons
    Trenton Doyle Hancock
    New Millennium Performance Art Trends
    Nick Cave
    Camille Norment
    Intervention Art
    William Pope.L
    Theaster Gates
    New Media Abstraction
    Chakaia Booker
    Xenobia Bailey
    Jennie C. Jones
    Shinique Smith
    Key Terms
    Questions for Further Study and Discussion


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