Robert Colescott. Recent Works

Organized by:
Site Santa Fe, New Mexico

Miriam Roberts

Robert Colescott was the first African-American artist to represent the United States in a single-artist exhibition, and the first painter chosen since Jasper Johns, in 1988. His exhibition included 19 paintings from the previous decade. Well known for his energetic and emotionally-charged interpretations of history, race, religion, art and popular culture, Colescott presented large canvases with a figurative vocabulary which challenged stereotypes to engender debate on the state of human relations in the U.S.

The exhibition began with works from 1987, as that years marked a turning point for the artist. Though he continued to use satire and narrative figuration, he moved beyond the controversial images of racial stereotypes for which he had become known. Colescott expanded his range and began exploring universal themes, venturing into the realm of mythological and religious allegory and sophisticated literary allusions. In 1988, Linda McGreevy wrote of his images in Arts Magazine, "He proves himself a moralist, a history painter in the deepest sense, whose webs of cultural cause and effect have come full circle to illuminate the present."