Howardena Pindell's Untitled #20 (Dutch Wives Circled and Squared), 1978

Wednesday, January 29, 2020 - 5:15pm

Annenberg 111, 3620 Walnut Street. Reception to follow in The Jaffe Building, 3405 Woodland Walk.

Huey Copeland, Arthur Andersen Teaching and Research Professor and Interim Director of the Black Arts Initiative, Northwestern

"Necessary Abstractions, Or, How to Look at Art as a Black Feminist"

In this lecture, art historian and critic Huey Copeland focuses on African American painting, particularly "abstract" work of the 1960s and 70s. While the practices of artists who emerged in that moment, such as Sam Gilliam and Howardena Pindell, have garnered increasing attention in recent years, critical discourse has tended to either emplot them within formalist narratives that elide considerations of race and gender or to frame them in identarian frameworks that leave aside the material complexity of the artworks themselves. Copeland moves beyond this dichotomy in articulating a black feminist approach to the construction of the modern material world that considers how African American women’s vernacular strategies of making-do variously inform modernist painters’ attempts to critique both the supposed autonomy of abstraction as well as the racialized and gendered construction of the gaze in Western cultures.