Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Robert Colescott: 1925-2009

"I'm an old-fashioned painter. I like to make paintings that look good. If they have that quality, one day when the subject matter is completely worn out, people will stop responding in shock. They might not even know what these paintings are about. Sometimes when we look at a Renaissance painting, we don't know what it's about—people flying through the air. I want these paintings to be valued because of the way they look as paintings."

The American painter Robert Colescott has died. Make that great American painter. Colescott was an African-American who was best known for high-comic riffs on racial stereotypes. One of his best known canvases was a spoof of Emmanuel Leutze's painting ofWashington Crossing the Delaware in which George Washington Carver has been substituted for the Father of Our Country, standing manfully at the prow of a rowboat full of racial stock characters.

Exploding stereotypes in work that's both hilarious and dead serious is a strategy that's been carried forward in different ways now by Kara Walker, Kehinde Wiley and Yinka Shonibare. But to think of Colescott merely as a satirist, or a kind of cartoonish political cartoonist is to miss the point entirely. What mattered about him first and last was that he was an absoluetly smashing painter, deeply versed in art history but endlessly inventive in making escape routes out of art historical traps.

After the war Colescott studied in Paris for a year with Leger and it's a safe bet that from Leger he learned something about billowing forms that lock beautifully into place while still appearing to explode out of the formation. It always seemed to me there was also a bit of German Expressionist DNA in both his distorted figures and his wild, acidic palette, which Jawlensky would have loved. And Colescott spoke about the impact on his art of a year he spent teaching in Cairo.

In 1997 Colescott became the first African-American artist to represent the U.S. at the Venice Biennale. Eight years earlier I had been borrowed by Time's sister publication People to profile him. In that story he said something that I think sums up his work precisely.

via TIME


powerHouse Books is pleased to announce the book signing event for 

Kehinde Wiley

Cocktails & Nibbly bits! 

Wednesday, June 24, 6–8PM

Barney's New York
Chelsea Passage, 9th Floor 
660 Madison Avenue 
(Madison and 61st Street) 
New York, NY 

RSVP: 212-450-8701

Available now at

powerHouse Books | powerHouse Arena
37 Main St, Brooklyn, NY 11201 

Ann Tanksley's "Images of Zora" at Avisca Fine Art Gallery

Ann Tanksley
Images of Zora

July 24 - August 14

Opening Reception:     

Friday July 24, 6-10 PM   


Artist Talk:                     

Saturday July 25, 3-6 PM                   

Program and Events

July 24-August 14: Exhibition on view at Avisca Fine Art Gallery, 507 Roswell Street, Marietta, GA 30060

July 24, 6-10 PM: Opening Reception at which the artist will be present. Open Bar and Hor's d'oeuvres.  

July 25, 3-6 PM: Talk by the artist on the series and the printmaking processes.

Thurs-Sat, 12-6 PM
Other times by appointment

For further information, contact Byrma Braham, Gallery Director (770.977.2732) (

507 Roswell Street, Marietta, GA 30060

Phone: (770) 977-2732

via Avisca Fine Art Gallery     

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Amon Carter Museum Exhibits Prestige Private Collection of African-American Art

FORT WORTH, TX.- The works of more than 50 African-American artists from the late 1800s to the early years of this century will be on view at the Amon Carter Museum from June 6 through August 23, 2009, in the special exhibition The Harmon and Harriet Kelley Collection of African-American Art: Works on Paper. The Kelley collection is one of the most esteemed private collections of African-American art, and the special exhibition features more than 90 works on paper by artists such as Elizabeth Catlett, William H. Johnson, Alison Saar and Charles White. Admission to all special exhibitions at the Amon Carter Museum is free. 

William Henry Johnson (1901–1970) Jitterbugs V, ca. 1941–42 / Courtesy of Landau Traveling Exhibitions.Two significant eras are represented in the exhibition: the 1930s and 1940s, a period which saw the birth of African-American regionalism, and the 1960s and 1970s, which saw the rise of politically motivated and African-inspired themes; subjects range from racism and its related hardships to family, music and religion. 

“An array of fascinating, vivid imagery makes this exhibition particularly compelling,” Myers says. “Virtually every work clearly emanates from the artists’ own powerful, personal narrative.” 

The Kelleys have been collecting art since the mid-1980s, when they saw the exhibition Hidden Heritage: Afro-American Art, 1800–1950 at the San Antonio Museum of Art. Realizing they did not recognize any of the artists’ names, they vowed to educate themselves about this aspect of their heritage and built a collection to advance the legacy of African-American art. 

“We are delighted the Amon Carter Museum has chosen to host this exhibition,” Harmon Kelley says. “Placing our drawings and prints in the context of the museum’s rich holdings of American art is a wonderful and unique opportunity.” 

Concurrent to this exhibition, the one-gallery exhibition African-American Art: Selections from the Amon Carter Museum’s Collection is on view. This exhibition showcases some of the museum’s landmark prints and drawings from the same era as those in the Kelley show. Artists featured include Charles Alston, Grafton Tyler Brown, Elizabeth Catlett, William H. Johnson, Jacob Lawrence, William E. Smith, Dox Thrash, Charles White and John Wilson. 

The Harmon and Harriet Kelley Collection of African-American Art: Works on Paper was organized by Landau Traveling Exhibitions, Los Angeles, California. African-American Art: Selections from the Amon Carter Museum’s Collection was organized by the Amon Carter Museum. Visit :

Alvin Ailey Dancer Anthony Burrell Comes Home

I first witnessed the rarefied kinetic poetry of Anthony Burrell in April of 1999. A friend who was the business affairs manager of Ailey II -- Alvin Ailey's junior company in residence -- invited me to see them perform in Harlem. At a post performance reception he introduced me to Burrell, who at 18 had just joined the company, and said with the certainty of a veteran sports agent, "this kid is gonna be a star."

A year later, after graduating to Alvin Ailey proper, Burrell was soon poached by Beyoncé Knowles, and he left the company in 2003 to serve as her lead dancer, choreographer, dance captain and rehearsal director. He would go on to work with the best of the best of the hip-hop and R&B world, including Destiny's Child, Rihanna, Jay-Z and Mary J. Blige. By 2008, Burrell had firmly established himself as the Dance King of Bling. But it was the pursuit of pure artistry that led him back to Ailey. He returned in time for the company's 50th anniversary tour and to perform for President Obama at post-inaugural festivities. I linked back up with Burrell during rehearsals for this week's run at the Brooklyn Academy of Music.

How and why did you decide to return to Alvin Ailey?
I felt there was a void... there was something missing. When I think of dance and what makes me happy I think of Alvin Ailey. So I gave [Alvin Ailey artistic director] Miss Jamison a call and asked if she would allow me to come audition for one of the open spots. "Only come if you're really ready," she said. A year later here I am.

You and Rihanna were rumored to have been romantically involved. True?
I was Rihanna's choreographer and dance captain. We became very, very, very good friends. We just had a good working relationship. Because we were so close and hung out 24/7 I guess that was the perception. She even invited me on Christmas vacation to see her island, Barbados. Who could turn that down for two weeks?

What was it like to perform for the Obamas?
It was one of those surreal moments in life where you're overjoyed to be a part of history and to have someone so monumental be touched and inspired by something you're doing, when in all actuality you're goo-goo ga-ga over them. The whole company was on a natural high.

Tell us about your performance this Thursday. I understand you'll be featured in three works.
The program for Thursday night is "Hymn," which is one of my favorite pieces in the repertory besides "Revelations." The night before my first audition for the company, I watched "Hymn" about three times and slept with my Bible, with my Alvin Ailey poster inside, beside my bed. It's always been something close to my heart and to be able to perform it now... it's like I'm an Ailey dancer. I'm also one of the lead soloists in "Suite Otis," which is a very soulful piece featuring the music of Otis Redding. The third piece is "Revelations." I never get tired of it. To hear the audience jump to their feet and roar at the end of the "Revelations" -- there's nothing like that! It's something you cannot exchange for anything in the world, man, and I think that's one of the reasons why I'm back here at Alvin Ailey.

The 50th anniversary celebration of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre culminates with performances from June 9-14 at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. For ticket information visit

via PM