Posing Modernity: The Black Model from Monet and Matisse to TodayRegular price $ 50.00
An ambitious and revelatory investigation of the black female figure in modern art, tracing the legacy of Manet through to contemporary art
This revelatory study investigates how changing modes of representing the black female figure were foundational to the development of modern art. Posing Modernity examines the legacy of Édouard Manet’s Olympia (1863), arguing that this radical painting marked a fitfully evolving shift toward modernist portrayals of the black figure as an active participant in everyday life rather than as an exotic “other.”
Denise Murrell explores the little-known interfaces between the avant-gardists of nineteenth-century Paris and the post-abolition community of free black Parisians. She traces the impact of Manet’s reconsideration of the black model into the twentieth century and across the Atlantic, where Henri Matisse visited Harlem jazz clubs and later produced transformative portraits of black dancers as icons of modern beauty. These and other works by the artist are set in dialogue with the urbane “New Negro” portraiture style with which Harlem Renaissance artists including Charles Alston and Laura Wheeler Waring defied racial stereotypes. The book concludes with a look at how Manet’s and Matisse’s depictions influenced Romare Bearden and continue to reverberate in the work of such global contemporary artists as Faith Ringgold, Aimé Mpane, Maud Sulter, and Mickalene Thomas, who draw on art history to explore its multiple voices.
Featuring over 175 illustrations and profiles of several models, Posing Modernity illuminates long-obscured figures and proposes that a history of modernism cannot be complete until it examines the vital role of the black female muse within it.
- 224 pages
- Publication date: November 13, 2018
- Finalist for the 2019 PROSE awards, art exhibitions category
- Winner of the 2019 Exhibition Catalogue Award, sponsored by the Dedalus Foundation
- Winner of the Alfred H. Barr Jr. Award for Smaller Museums, Libraries, Collections, and Exhibitions, sponsored by the College Art Association
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