Black art, unlike black music, was never valued purely for its power to captivate the spectator. Instead the art object always served as a sign of some other cognitive interest, and could be neither pleasurable nor exciting unless it was 'socially significant.' It had to be treated not as art but as a lesson in social history or an instrument of social change."" So David Driskell concludes his essay-history of black art, which together with the many interspersed and succeeding illustrations (32 in color), comprises the first general treatment of the subject since Cecil Dover's 1960 American Negro Art. How thinking has matured, Driskell's assessment indicates; how much has been learned is evident from the coverage of colonial and pre-Civil War contributions by both slaves and free blacks (where lacunae specifically cited by Dover are filled). There is also acute discussion of such later problems as black ""primitivism"" and the ""cross-consciousness"" of black artists in American society. A biographical directory of artists, with one or more works from each, supplements the historical section, and makes this--especially in paper--a valuable acquisition.