Synopses & Reviews
At the close of the twentieth century, black artists began to figure prominently in the mainstream American art world for the first time. Thanks to the social advances of the civil rights movement and the rise of multiculturalism, African American artists in the late 1980s and early andrsquo;90s enjoyed unprecedented access to established institutions of publicity and display. Yet in this moment of ostensible freedom, black cultural practitioners found themselves turning to the history of slavery.and#160;Bound to Appear focuses on four of these artistsandmdash;Renandeacute;e Green, Glenn Ligon, Lorna Simpson, and Fred Wilsonandmdash;who have dominated and shaped the field of American art over the past two decades through large-scale installations that radically departed from prior conventions for representing the enslaved. Huey Copeland shows that their projects draw on strategies associated with minimalism, conceptualism, and institutional critique to position the slave as a vexed figureandmdash;both subject and object, property and person. They also engage the visual logic of race in modernity and the challenges negotiated by black subjects in the present. As such, Copeland argues, their work reframes strategies of representation and rethinks how blackness might be imagined and felt long after the end of the andldquo;peculiar institution.andrdquo; The first book to examine in depth these artistsandrsquo; engagements with slavery, Bound to Appear will leave an indelible mark on modern and contemporary art.
andldquo;Bound to Appear is bound to change forever the ways we think about blackness, historical memory, and contemporary art. In combining close-looking, theoretical sophistication, and writerly verve, Copeland makes us see the work and world of visual art differently. Students of contemporary art history and black cultural studies will welcome this book with appropriate admiration and wild abandon.andrdquo;
andldquo;The archival turn among Black Atlantic artists gets the depth of attention it has long deserved in Bound to Appear. Asking why the subject of slavery is so resistant to representation, Huey Copeland builds upon studies of race and visuality inaugurated by Ralph Ellison and Frantz Fanon, adding far-reaching insights into the politics of form in post-medium art. Introducing a bold voice whose eloquence delivers conceptual acuity with ethical urgency, this field-turning book will be eagerly embraced across the arts and humanities for the future horizons of intellectual adventure it opens up.andrdquo;
andldquo;With its rigorous and nuanced theoretical engagement as well as its meticulous description and analysis of artworks,and#160;Bound to Appearand#160;brings together the literature of black radical thought and modernist formalism not only to enhance our understanding of the complex range of issues and materials engaged by the artists under scrutiny but also to insist that their practices are central to the larger histories of modernism and contemporary art. Throughout, Huey Copelandandrsquo;s prose is simply stunning, punctuated with moving rhetorical flourishes and crescendos. This is an incredibly imaginative and compelling book.andrdquo;
and#160;andldquo;Art history of the sort that Huey Copeland produces, in its capacity to make us see works of art anew, makes us see the world anew as well. Such vision is often discomfiting and, as such, unwanted precisely insofar as it refuses to allow any simple separation of beauty and ugliness, enjoyment and terror. But this is exactly what makes such vision necessary. This is all extraordinarily clear in the work Copeland has done in Bound to Appear, a brilliantly accomplished and vivid examination of the legacies of slavery that continue to haunt American art.andrdquo;
“[A] lavishly illustrated and ambitious book…. Highly recommended.”
"Taken together, this bookand#8217;s theoretical and critical maneuvers are consistently dazzling. . . . Bound to Appear
and#8217;s combination of sensory description, sensitive handling of theory, and thorough research on featured artists and their milieu makes it a substantial and fresh piece of art history."
"Copeland . . . [has] done remarkable work bringing the lens of and#8216;post-slaveryand#8217; to bear not only on the objects of . . . analysis, but on . . . readersand#8217; senses of identity and community, as well as our notions of historical legacy."
and#8220;[A] lavishly illustrated and ambitious bookand#8230;. Highly recommended.and#8221;
andquot;Bound to Appear is not about the comforts of representation. . . . Instead, it leads us to the limits of representational discourse, to something deeper and more opaque. . . .and#160;Bound to Appear adjusts our vision, tunes our listening practices, and recalibrates our haptic sensibilities to see blackness everywhere, in all its pain and promises of resistance.andquot;
A smart account of a defining moment in African American contemporary art.and#160; The early 1990s were a game changer for black artists.and#160; Many rose prominently to lead the field of advanced art more generally--artists like Glennand#160;Ligon,and#160;Renee Green, Fred Wilson, Lorna Simpson and others.and#160; It was in the early 1990s when African American artists began to produce installation and conceptual work, where previously, as an identity group, they had focused on figurative painting and craft work.and#160; Now, suddently, artists were producing site specific installations, sound art, performance, and readymades that sought to immerse the viewer in environments that provoked the experience of slaveryand#160;and raised awareness of the constructedness of "blackness" in this country.
About the Author
Huey Copeland is associate professor of art history at Northwestern University.
Table of Contents
List of Illustrations
Introduction. The Blackness of Things
1 Fred Wilson and the Rhetoric of Redress
2 Lorna Simpsonandrsquo;s Figurative Transitions
3 Glenn Ligon and the Matter of Fugitivity
4 Renandeacute;e Greenandrsquo;s Diasporic Imagination
Epilogue. Alternate Routes