Art and Race Matters: The Career of Robert Colescott
29 May - 31 October 2021
This is the first comprehensive museum retrospective presenting the works of one of America’s most compelling and controversial artists, Robert Colescott (1925-2009). The exhibition will reveal 50 total works throughout 53 years of his career that both bring to the surface and challenge diversity and racial stereotypes.
Art and Race Matters invites a renewed examination of the artist, whose work is still as challenging, provocative, and relevant now as it was when he burst onto the art scene over five decades ago. Presenting works from across Colescott’s career, the exhibition traces the progression of his stylistic development and the impact of place on his practice, revealing the diversity and range of his oeuvre: from his adaptations of Bay Area Figuration in the 1950s and 60s, to his signature graphic style of the 1970s, and the dense, painterly figuration of his later work. Art and Race Matters also explores prevalent themes in Colescott’s work, including the complexities of identity, societal standards of beauty, the reality of the American Dream, and the role of the artist as arbiter and witness in contemporary life.
“Robert Colescott is an artist I have been interested in for a long time as a painter and astute purveyor of American society,” says Contemporary Art Center’s Alice & Harris Weston Director, Raphaela Platow. “I feel strongly that Colescott’s exploration of race, identity and politics in the US are as pertinent as ever. This major survey outlining Colescott’s overall contribution is a timely undertaking that will also reevaluate the artists place within the art discourse.”
Co-curated by Lowery Stokes Sims and Matthew Weseley, and organized by Raphaela Platow, the Contemporary Arts Center’s Alice & Harris Weston Director and Chief Curator. Following its debut in Cincinnati, the exhibition will travel to the Portland Art Museum, Sarasota Art Museum, and Chicago Cultural Center. Major support of the exhibition has been provided by the Henry Luce Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, and Richard Rosenthal; the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts for the research phase of the exhibition and the exhibition itself; and the Harold & Arlene Schnitzer CARE Foundation for its support of the catalogue. The exhibition was also awarded a Sotheby’s Prize in 2018 in recognition of curatorial excellence and its exploration of an overlooked and under-represented area of art history.