Riff: African American Artists and the European Canon


Guest Editors

This special section of Panorama entitled “Riff: African American Artists and the European Canon” is an outgrowth of an Association for Critical Race Art History panel of the same name that took place at the annual meeting of the College Art Association in 2017. The five invited essays included in this section, as well as the introduction by Adrienne L. Childs and the response by John P. Bowles, offer nuanced readings of artists spanning nearly a century, whose engagement with European art and artistic tradition vary from full-throated adulation to subtle and unspoken resonances.


Introduction by Adrienne L. Childs, “Riff: African American Artists and the European Canon”
Julie L. McGee, “Sam Middleton: Freedom’s Song”
Gwendolyn DuBois Shaw, “The Wandering Gaze of Carrie Mae Weems’s The Louisiana Project”
Jacqueline Francis, “Romare Bearden’s Mauritius (1969): Wars, Nations, and Everything Else”
Nikki A. Greene, “Vibrations in the Soul: Moe Brooker’s Sacred Paintings”
James Smalls, “‘Expressive Camouflage’: Classicism, Race, and Homoerotic Desire in the Male Nudes of Richmond Barthé”
Response by John P. Bowles, “African American Artists as Agents of Modernism: A Challenge for American Art”


Above: Faith Ringgold, Matisse’s Model (The French Collection, Part I: #5) (detail), 1991. Acrylic on canvas, printed and tie-dyed fabric, ink, 73 ¼ x 79 ¾ in. The Baltimore Museum of Art: Frederick R. Weisman Contemporary Art Acquisitions, Endowment, BMA 1999.66; @2018 Faith Ringgold, Member Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York; Photo by Mitro Hood

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