The Arts: 30 Americans

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30 Americans, a wide-ranging survey of works by many of the most important African American contemporary artists of the last three decades. By bringing seminal artistic figures together with younger and emerging artists, the exhibition explores artistic influence across generations and sheds light on issues of racial, sexual and historical identity.

30 Americans explores how each artist reckons with the notion of identity in America, navigating such concerns as the struggle for civil rights, sexuality, popular culture, and media imagery,‖ said Sarah Newman, curator of contemporary art at the Corcoran and curator of the presentation at the Corcoran. ―By focusing on the way that individuals carve out their own place in the world, it speaks to the American experience more generally.

The exhibition explores the ways in which a foundational figure‘s ideas and formal innovations ripple through contemporary practice: Robert Colescott‘s investigations of the narratives of art and history in relation to African-American culture echo through the grand portraits of Kehinde Wiley and the cut-paper silhouettes of Kara Walker; the innovations of Jean-Michel Basquiat‘s graffiti-based paintings of the urban environment find current form in the work of Mark Bradford and Shinique Smith; while David Hammons‘s wry investigations of language, meaning, and race provide a starting point for the conceptualism of Glenn Ligon and Lorna Simpson.

30 Americans consists of 76 paintings, sculptures, drawings, photographs, and videos, and includes works of art such as Washington, D.C. native iona rozeal brown‘s Sacrifice #2: It Has to Last (after Yoshitoshi’s “Drowsy: the appearance of a harlot of the Meiji era”), 2007, Leonardo Drew‘s massive cotton and wax sculpture Untitled #25, 1992, several of Nick Cave‘s exuberant Soundsuits, (2006–2008), and Mickalene Thomas‘s Baby I Am Ready Now, 2007.

To learn more about the exhibit or plan your visit, click here.

Image courtesy of Rubell Family Collection, Miami


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