Looking at African American Art

Artists of African descent working in the U.S. are making some of the most compelling art of our time. Organized under the banner of “African American Art,” their work evokes themes unique to black lived experience across genres and disciplines, from realism and figuration to abstraction to the body in performance. Students in this course explore these themes, genres, and disciplines to understand how the category of “African American Art” came to be. Artworks in this category reflect the tremendous social and political change that occurred from the early Republic to the Civil War, the rise of industry, the Jazz Age and the Harlem Renaissance, the post-war years, and the Civil Rights movement up to present day questions of self and society. The course focuses on notable movements, figures, and artworks of the last century, taking the increasing visibility of African American artists in the current art market as a starting point to reflect on these turns in time and vision. By the course’s end, students are able to identify and discuss African American artists’ contributions to modern visual culture and think expansively about what constitutes “African American Art.” 

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