Figuring History: Robert Colescott, Kerry James Marshall, Mickalene Thomas brings together three generations of prominent contemporary American artists, whose work challenges a Western painting tradition that underrepresents people of color. The vibrant and monumental paintings by these artists offer bold perspectives on Black culture and representation. Presented together for the first time, the figurative paintings of Colescott, Marshall, and Thomas are shaped by distinctive historic events, unique in style, and united in questioning the narratives of history through Black experience.
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Images: School of Beauty, School of Culture, 2012, Kerry James Marshall, acrylic and glitter on unstretched canvas, 108 x 158 in., Birmingham Museum of Art, Museum purchase with funds provided by Elizabeth (Bibby) Smith, the Collectors Circle for Contemporary Art, Jane Comer, the Sankofa Society, and general acquisition funds, 2012.57, © Kerry James Marshall. George Washington Carver Crossing the Delaware: Page from an American History Textbook, 1975, Robert Colescott, acrylic on canvas, 84 x 108 in., Private collection, Saint Louis, © 2017 Estate of Robert Colescott / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York, photo: Jean Paul Torno. Racquel: Come to Me, 2017, Mickalene Thomas, rhinestones, acrylic, oil, glitter, and oil stick on wood panel, 108 x 84 x 2 in., Courtesy of the artist and Lehmann Maupin, New York and Hong Kong, © Mickalene Thomas.