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THE BRILLIANCE OF THE COLOR BLACK THROUGH THE EYES OF ART COLLECTORS

A sophisticated artistic celebration of Blackness.

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An art scholar’s reflections on the intersection of race, color, and art.

“Of all the tincts that can fill up a canvas,” Moore emphasizes, “black exudes brilliance.” With a master’s degree in museum studies from Harvard, the Columbia University doctoral candidate in art education has already established himself as one of the most promising young voices in the art world. He expertly balances abstract criticism with pragmatic advice. In this follow-up to his acclaimed guide to art collecting, The Black Market (2020), Moore offers readers astute, thoughtful essays centered around the titular color black and provides logistical advice for Black artists and collectors. Central to the book’s message is a juxtaposition between Western culture’s association of the color white with purity and black with “grief and death.” Although black has long been associated with innocence in African and Asian cultures, these essays aim to challenge Western collectors, critics, and museums, noting, for example, that “White supremacy has…found a warm welcome in museum board seats.” Some pieces move beyond the realm of high art, noting the artistic merit and astute racial commentary found in African American literature, public art, family portraits, and “Visual Albums,” such as Kanye West’s Runaway (2010). The book’s more practical essays provide tips for building a collection, finding mentors in the field, and getting into “the business of art.” Although the wide-ranging nature of the chapters makes for a sometimes-disjointed reading experience at times, each of the essays here offers readers fresh insights into the intersection of art and race. Most importantly, Moore never misses a chance to introduce readers to a wide range of Black artists, from the well known to the up-and-coming. Entire chapters are effectively devoted to “the disruptors” and “the eclectics” who are transforming the art scene in the United States. Overall, this is a learned yet approachable book by an author who’s well versed in art history and theory as well as in the scholarship of W.E.B. Du Bois, Angela Y. Davis, and other Black theorists.

A sophisticated artistic celebration of Blackness.

Pub Date: Sept. 8, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-955496-23-0

Page Count: 294

Publisher: Petite Ivy Press

Review Posted Online: Sept. 3, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 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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