Book cover of Michael Ray Charles: A Retrospective by Cherise Smith , 2020

The Archival Impulse in Contemporary Black Art


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Cherise Smith's Michael Ray Charles: A Retrospective is the first in-depth examination of the work of Michael Ray Charles, whose provocative paintings recast images of racism in consumer culture. The book places the artist's work in the context of the 1990s, the rise in collecting of Black "memorabilia," the challenges posed by art censorship, and Pop art among other historical trends. Following a presentation on the book, Smith discusses with Tiffany E. Barber and Gwendolyn DuBois Shaw the ways contemporary artists engage with archival materials within the context of African American art history, as well as its increased institutionalization.

Cherise Smith is the Joseph D. Jamail Chair in African American Studies in the Department African & African Diaspora Studies at the University of Texas at Austin where she is affiliated with Art History. An inaugural residential scholar of the African American Art History Initiative at the Getty Research Institute, she is the author of Michael Ray Charles: A Retrospective, which won the Charles C. Eldredge Prize for Distinguished Scholarship in American Art from the Smithsonian American Art Museum.

Gwendolyn DuBois Shaw holds the Class of 1940 Bicentennial Term Chair in the History of Art Department at the University of Pennsylvania. She is the author of numerous publications, including Seeing the Unspeakable: The Art of Kara Walker and First Ladies of the United States.

Tiffany E. Barber is assistant professor of Africana Studies and Art History at the University of Delaware, as well as curator-in-residence at the Delaware Contemporary. A scholar, curator and critic, her work spans abstraction, dance, fashion, feminism, and the ethics of representation, focusing on artists of the Black diaspora working in the United States and the broader Atlantic world. She is currently a postdoctoral fellow at the Getty Research Institute.

This program is part of The Fragment series, which explores how fragments have long catalyzed the study of visual culture while also continuing to inform contemporary views of society and art.

The conversation will be available on the Getty Research Institute YouTube channel following the event.

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