Kobena Mercer
Kobena Mercer is Charles P. Stevenson Chair in Art History and Humanities at Bard College.
Mercer, Kobena
Mercer, Kobena
United States of America
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Description: Alain Locke and the Visual Arts
Alain Locke (1885–1954), leading theorist of the Harlem Renaissance, maintained a lifelong commitment to the visual arts. Offering an in-depth study of Locke’s writings and art world interventions, Kobena Mercer focuses on the importance of cross-cultural entanglement. This distinctive approach reveals Locke’s vision of modern art as a dynamic space where images and ideas generate new forms under the fluid conditions of diaspora.

Positioning the philosopher as an advocate for an Afromodern aesthetic that drew from both formal experiments in Europe and the iconic legacy of the African past, Mercer shows how Aaron Douglas, Loïs Mailou Jones, and other New Negro artists acknowledged the diaspora’s rupture with the ancestral past as a prelude to the rebirth of identity. In his 1940 picture book, The Negro in Art, Locke also explored the different ways black and white artists approached the black image. Mercer’s reading highlights the global mobility of black images as they travel across national and ethnic frontiers. Finally, Mercer examines how Locke’s investment in art was shaped by gay male aestheticism. Black male nudes, including works by Richmond Barthé and Carl Van Vechten, thus reveal the significance of queer practices in modernism’s cross-cultural genesis.

*This eBook is available exclusively on the A&AePortal.*
Print publication date September 2022 (in print)
Print ISBN 9780300247268
EISBN 9780300272949
Illustrations 119
Print Status in print
Description: The Image of the Black in Western Art, Volume V: The Twentieth Century, Part 2: The...
The transformations brought to bear on representations of black people in Western art at the end of the twentieth century and the start of the twenty-first were the result of numerous social, cultural, and political factors. First and foremost was the living presence of black artists within the institutions of artistic production. Artists of African descent had always been active in the world of...
PublisherHarvard University Press
Related print edition pages: pp.225-300