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Robert Colescott - for your African American units


From: Judy Decker (jdecker_at_TeacherArtExchange)
Date: Sun Jul 11 2004 - 11:40:30 PDT

Greetings Art Educators,

I received my newsletter from Michael Gerrish today and was pleased to find
links for Robert Colescott.
There is an excellent video on him available.
Robert Colescott- One Two Punch
I did not see it listed in Crystal Production or Art Video World

Here is an old Getty post I made:
"Robert Colescott: The One Two Punch" (28 minutes- 1993- Linda Freeman for
L&S Video, Inc)
Robert Colescott is an African American who grew up in California. His
father was a railroad man. Colescott "re-writes" American history through
his paintings. The palette is bold and bright. He appropriates bits and
pieces from master works and changes them to get across the African American
experience. This video would be good to show students to get them to think
about social statements and to introduce parody in art. One of Colescott's
works is "George Washington Carver Crossing the Delaware" where all
participate in the boat represent African American stereotypes. Another work
is "Eat Dem Tators". Colescott takes the composition of Van Gogh ("Potato
Eaters") and makes the people all black with smiling faces (somewhat cartoon
like in appearance). There are a few paintings of nudes...but I still think
this video could be shown grades 8 and up. Colescott presents is a good
example of how artists learn ("steal") from other artists.

Links to inspire:
Nice photo of him:
More from Arcyclopedia:
Oral Histroy Interview:

Thanks Michael Gerrish! It has been a long time since I looked at
Colescott's work. I do have him listed on: and will add
these other resources.

Michael Gerrish site:

This is what Michael had to say:

This month's star is Robert Colescott. When I encountered his work in the
late 1980's, I was amazed by the vividness of his palette and his ability to
paint with authority. Don't be put off by what he paints; his images may be
confrontational, but they are wondrous. Learn more about him at Colescott's
Artcyclopedia link, or you can Google him.

"It's the satire that kills the serpent" - Robert Colescott

Judy Decker - Ohio
Incredible Art Department
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