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THE BLACK MARKET

A GUIDE TO ART COLLECTING

An essential primer on collecting Black art that expertly blends the passion of an art student with the expertise of an...

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A connoisseur offers advice for collecting African American works of art.

With an MBA in finance and a master’s degree in museum studies from Harvard (and a forthcoming doctorate in art education from Columbia), Moore has both a keen artistic eye and practical know-how on the ins and outs of the business of art collection. He acknowledges the structural barriers that have long confronted African American artists, but he believes that they’ve become “pillars” of today’s art scene. Museums from Los Angeles to Atlanta have seen an inclusive “curatorial shift,” he says, as “exhibitions rooted in the Black American identity” have become commonplace. The book’s first section offers guidance to novices interested in African American art, including a brief history lesson regarding important Black creators, from the early 20th century’s Norman Lewis and Jacob Lawrence to contemporary sensations, such as Tschabalala Self. The book is full of practical tips, with chapter topics that include general information on art museums and fairs, art schools, and auctions. The book’s second half profiles a cross-section of modern collectors of African American art, including actor Hill Harper, former Cincinnati Bengals linebacker Keith Rivers, and tech entrepreneur Everette Taylor. The collectors discuss their love of varied aesthetics found in Black art, but many also emphasize their “socially conscious” approach to collecting. This book deals in a cultural realm that many people associate with elitism, but Moore’s writing style is always accessible and geared toward neophytes, and his advice effectively emphasizes “economical…methods on which we can educate ourselves in the art world.” However, many readers will be disappointed by the lack of images of actual artworks in a work devoted to art. Still, the book provides ample, useful reference materials, including a detailed glossary of art terms and an annotated bibliography of introductory texts on art criticism and theory as well as on African American history and culture.

An essential primer on collecting Black art that expertly blends the passion of an art student with the expertise of an insider.

Pub Date: Sept. 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-73517-080-0

Page Count: 204

Publisher: Petite Ivy Press

Review Posted Online: Nov. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2021

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A WEALTH OF PIGEONS

A CARTOON COLLECTION

A virtuoso performance and an ode to an undervalued medium created by two talented artists.

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The veteran actor, comedian, and banjo player teams up with the acclaimed illustrator to create a unique book of cartoons that communicates their personalities.

Martin, also a prolific author, has always been intrigued by the cartoons strewn throughout the pages of the New Yorker. So when he was presented with the opportunity to work with Bliss, who has been a staff cartoonist at the magazine since 1997, he seized the moment. “The idea of a one-panel image with or without a caption mystified me,” he writes. “I felt like, yeah, sometimes I’m funny, but there are these other weird freaks who are actually funny.” Once the duo agreed to work together, they established their creative process, which consisted of working forward and backward: “Forwards was me conceiving of several cartoon images and captions, and Harry would select his favorites; backwards was Harry sending me sketched or fully drawn cartoons for dialogue or banners.” Sometimes, he writes, “the perfect joke occurs two seconds before deadline.” There are several cartoons depicting this method, including a humorous multipanel piece highlighting their first meeting called “They Meet,” in which Martin thinks to himself, “He’ll never be able to translate my delicate and finely honed droll notions.” In the next panel, Bliss thinks, “I’m sure he won’t understand that the comic art form is way more subtle than his blunt-force humor.” The team collaborated for a year and created 150 cartoons featuring an array of topics, “from dogs and cats to outer space and art museums.” A witty creation of a bovine family sitting down to a gourmet meal and one of Dumbo getting his comeuppance highlight the duo’s comedic talent. What also makes this project successful is the team’s keen understanding of human behavior as viewed through their unconventional comedic minds.

A virtuoso performance and an ode to an undervalued medium created by two talented artists.

Pub Date: Nov. 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-26289-9

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Celadon Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2020

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ORDINARY NOTES

An exquisitely original celebration of American Blackness.

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A potent series of “notes” paints a multidimensional picture of Blackness in America.

Throughout the book, which mixes memoir, history, literary theory, and art, Sharpe—the chair of Black studies at York University in Toronto and author of the acclaimed book In the Wake: On Blackness and Being—writes about everything from her family history to the everyday trauma of American racism. Although most of the notes feature the author’s original writing, she also includes materials like photographs, copies of letters she received, responses to a Twitter-based crowdsourcing request, and definitions of terms collected from colleagues and friends (“preliminary entries toward a dictionary of untranslatable blackness”). These diverse pieces coalesce into a multifaceted examination of the ways in which the White gaze distorts Blackness and perpetuates racist violence. Sharpe’s critique is not limited to White individuals, however. She includes, for example, a disappointing encounter with a fellow Black female scholar as well as critical analysis of Barack Obama’s choice to sing “Amazing Grace” at the funeral of the Rev. Clementa Pinckney, who was killed in a hate crime at the Mother Emmanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina. With distinct lyricism and a firm but tender tone, Sharpe executes every element of this book flawlessly. Most impressive is the collagelike structure, which seamlessly moves among an extraordinary variety of forms and topics. For example, a photograph of the author’s mother in a Halloween costume transitions easily into an introduction to Roland Barthes’ work Camera Lucida, which then connects just as smoothly to a memory of watching a White visitor struggle with the reality presented by the Legacy Museum in Montgomery, Alabama. “Something about this encounter, something about seeing her struggle…feels appropriate to the weight of this history,” writes the author. It is a testament to Sharpe’s artistry that this incredibly complex text flows so naturally.

An exquisitely original celebration of American Blackness.

Pub Date: April 25, 2023

ISBN: 9780374604486

Page Count: 392

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Jan. 18, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2023

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