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Janson’s oversight


Photographer Dawoud Bey mulls over the state of African American art in a white-dominated art world in this artnet article. It’s a must-read if you’re concerned about who is and who isn’t written in to books like H.W. Janson’s The History of Art — and why.

Bey, who has a show at Gorney Bravin and Lee opening April 15, ruminates that African American artists whose subject matter lies outside racially stereotypical subjects — say those who paint abstract paintings or make conceptually-driven work instead of racially-themed work — are somehow relegated to places so far under the radar they might as well be …invisible. It’s not because of quality, he says but for reasons that have to do with whites’ perceptions of blacks — the coon show he calls it.

Bey cites Philadelphia artists Charles Burwell and Terry Adkins as two examples of undersung African American artists. I’ll say. Burwell shows in town at Sande Webster gallery and he’s often included in group shows at the African American Museum in Philadelphia, but if there’s a group show of abstract painters in town he’s not always included. (image is painting by Burwell)

Libby wrote about Burwell last May and again in Oct.