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How to See a Work of Art in Total Darkness

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How to See a Work of Art in Total Darkness Cover

 

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

andlt;Pandgt;Work by black artists today is almost uniformly understood in terms of its "blackness," with audiences often expecting or requiring it to "represent" the race. In How to See a Work of Art in Total Darkness, Darby English shows how severely such expectations limit the scope of our knowledge about this work and how different it looks when approached on its own terms. Refusing to grant racial blackness--his metaphorical "total darkness"--primacy over his subjects' other concerns and contexts, he brings to light problems and possibilities that arise when questions of artistic priority and freedom come into contact, or even conflict, with those of cultural obligation. English examines the integrative and interdisciplinary strategies of five contemporary artists--Kara Walker, Fred Wilson, Isaac Julien, Glenn Ligon, and William Pope.L--stressing the ways in which this work at once reflects and alters our view of its informing context: the advent of postmodernity in late twentieth-century American art and culture.The necessity for "black art" comes both from antiblack racism and resistances to it, from both segregation and efforts to imagine an autonomous domain of black culture. Yet to judge by the work of many contemporary practitioners, English writes, black art is increasingly less able--and black artists less willing--to maintain its standing as a realm apart. Through close examinations of Walker's controversial silhouettes' insubordinate reply to pictorial tradition, Wilson's and Julien's distinct approaches to institutional critique, Ligon's text paintings' struggle with modernisms, and Pope.L's vexing performance interventions, English grounds his contention that to understand this work is to displace race from its central location in our interpretation and to grant right of way to the work's historical, cultural, and aesthetic specificity.andlt;/Pandgt;

Synopsis:

--Miwon Kwon, Department of Art History, University of California, Los Angeles

Synopsis:

Going beyond the "blackness" of black art to examine the integrative and interdisciplinary practices of Kara Walker, Fred Wilson, Isaac Julien, Glenn Ligon, and William Pope.L—five contemporary black artists in whose work race plays anything but a defining role.

Synopsis:

andlt;Pandgt;Going beyond the "blackness" of black art to examine the integrative and interdisciplinary practices of Kara Walker, Fred Wilson, Isaac Julien, Glenn Ligon, and William Pope.Land#38;mdash;five contemporary black artists in whose work race plays anything but a defining role.andlt;/Pandgt;

Synopsis:

Work by black artists today is almost uniformly understood in terms of its blackness, with audiences often expecting or requiring it to represent the race. In

Synopsis:

Work by black artists today is almost uniformly understood in terms of its "blackness," with audiences often expecting or requiring it to "represent" the race. In How to See a Work of Art in Total Darkness, Darby English shows how severely such expectations limit the scope of our knowledge about this work and how different it looks when approached on its own terms. Refusing to grant racial blackness--his metaphorical "total darkness"--primacy over his subjects' other concerns and contexts, he brings to light problems and possibilities that arise when questions of artistic priority and freedom come into contact, or even conflict, with those of cultural obligation. English examines the integrative and interdisciplinary strategies of five contemporary artists--Kara Walker, Fred Wilson, Isaac Julien, Glenn Ligon, and William Pope.L--stressing the ways in which this work at once reflects and alters our view of its informing context: the advent of postmodernity in late twentieth-century American art and culture.The necessity for "black art" comes both from antiblack racism and resistances to it, from both segregation and efforts to imagine an autonomous domain of black culture. Yet to judge by the work of many contemporary practitioners, English writes, black art is increasingly less able--and black artists less willing--to maintain its standing as a realm apart. Through close examinations of Walker's controversial silhouettes' insubordinate reply to pictorial tradition, Wilson's and Julien's distinct approaches to institutional critique, Ligon's text paintings' struggle with modernisms, and Pope.L's vexing performance interventions, English grounds his contention that to understand this work is to displace race from its central location in our interpretation and to grant right of way to the work's historical, cultural, and aesthetic specificity.

About the Author

Darby English is Associate Professor of Art History at the University of Chicago.

Product Details

ISBN:
9780262050838
Author:
English, Darby
Publisher:
MIT Press (MA)
Author:
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Location:
Cambridge
Subject:
Criticism
Subject:
American - African American
Subject:
20th century
Subject:
African American art
Subject:
Criticism -- Theory.
Subject:
African American art - 20th century
Subject:
Art - General
Copyright:
Series:
How to See a Work of Art in Total Darkness
Publication Date:
20070803
Binding:
HARDCOVER
Grade Level:
from 17
Language:
English
Illustrations:
22 color illus., 31 b, &, w illus.
Pages:
376
Dimensions:
9 x 6 in

Related Subjects

Arts and Entertainment » Art » African American Art and Artists
Arts and Entertainment » Art » General
Arts and Entertainment » Art » Theory and Criticism
History and Social Science » Economics » General

How to See a Work of Art in Total Darkness New Hardcover
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Product details 376 pages Mit Press - English 9780262050838 Reviews:
"Synopsis" by , --Miwon Kwon, Department of Art History, University of California, Los Angeles
"Synopsis" by , Going beyond the "blackness" of black art to examine the integrative and interdisciplinary practices of Kara Walker, Fred Wilson, Isaac Julien, Glenn Ligon, and William Pope.L—five contemporary black artists in whose work race plays anything but a defining role.
"Synopsis" by , andlt;Pandgt;Going beyond the "blackness" of black art to examine the integrative and interdisciplinary practices of Kara Walker, Fred Wilson, Isaac Julien, Glenn Ligon, and William Pope.Land#38;mdash;five contemporary black artists in whose work race plays anything but a defining role.andlt;/Pandgt;
"Synopsis" by , Work by black artists today is almost uniformly understood in terms of its blackness, with audiences often expecting or requiring it to represent the race. In
"Synopsis" by , Work by black artists today is almost uniformly understood in terms of its "blackness," with audiences often expecting or requiring it to "represent" the race. In How to See a Work of Art in Total Darkness, Darby English shows how severely such expectations limit the scope of our knowledge about this work and how different it looks when approached on its own terms. Refusing to grant racial blackness--his metaphorical "total darkness"--primacy over his subjects' other concerns and contexts, he brings to light problems and possibilities that arise when questions of artistic priority and freedom come into contact, or even conflict, with those of cultural obligation. English examines the integrative and interdisciplinary strategies of five contemporary artists--Kara Walker, Fred Wilson, Isaac Julien, Glenn Ligon, and William Pope.L--stressing the ways in which this work at once reflects and alters our view of its informing context: the advent of postmodernity in late twentieth-century American art and culture.The necessity for "black art" comes both from antiblack racism and resistances to it, from both segregation and efforts to imagine an autonomous domain of black culture. Yet to judge by the work of many contemporary practitioners, English writes, black art is increasingly less able--and black artists less willing--to maintain its standing as a realm apart. Through close examinations of Walker's controversial silhouettes' insubordinate reply to pictorial tradition, Wilson's and Julien's distinct approaches to institutional critique, Ligon's text paintings' struggle with modernisms, and Pope.L's vexing performance interventions, English grounds his contention that to understand this work is to displace race from its central location in our interpretation and to grant right of way to the work's historical, cultural, and aesthetic specificity.
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