Issues regarding visual depictions of blackness in American art have been such highly scrutinized topics in both artistic production and museum exhibitions that one could ask what else is there to examine that has not already been sufficiently analyzed? Black Like Who? answers that inquiry with a question that considers who renders imagery of blackness and contemplates the various reasons why.
Drawing on the Museum’s collection and select loans from Birmingham private collectors, the exhibition surveys a variety of historical and contemporary works, and explores how various representations of blacks in American art have been influenced at particular historical moments by specific political, cultural, and aesthetic interests, as well as the motives and beliefs of the artists. Comprising work by both white and black artists, the diverse works examined in Black Like Who? range from romanticized Civil War depictions painted in the early 20th century by Gilbert Gaul (1855-1919) to a contemporary print by Iona Rozeal Brown (born 1966) that blends hip-hop culture with late 19th-century Japanese art.
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