Sheldon Memorial Art Gallery and Sculpture Garden
University of Nebraska
Robert Colescott: Recent Paintings
September 24, 1999-January 2, 2000
The Sheldon Memorial Art Gallery and Sculpture Garden is pleased to present Robert Colescott: Recent Paintings, an exhibition that was selected by the Federal Advisory Committee for International Exhibitions for presentation in the American Pavilion at the 47th Venice Biennale from June 15-November 9, 1997.
The exhibition features eighteen of Colescott's large-scale acrylics from the last ten years of his very productive career. The works are painted in the artist's characteristic figurative-narrative style, with bravura brushwork, dynamic color, and rich symbolic images. They deal with such universal themes as the meaning of history, standards of beauty in different cultures and the power derived from controlling those standards, the interconnectedness of the races, and the relationship between the sexes. They incorporate elements from art history and popular culture in humorous and revealing ways and raise ethical questions about how artists and cultures appropriate images and symbols from other artists and cultures, sometimes innocently, sometimes arrogantly. Colescott, who achieved artworld notoriety in the late '50s in the San Francisco Bay Area, has continued to challenge stereotypes through his paintings for over forty years and has become one of the most influential African-American artists of the second half of the twentieth century.
Colescott was the first African-American artist and the first figurative artist to represent the United States in a single-aritist exhibition at Venice--and the first painter since Jasper Johns in 1988. The Venice Biennale is the oldest and one of the most prestigious of the international visual arts festivals, having celebrated its centennial in 1995. Exhibitions are organized within twenty-seven separate pavilions owned and operated by individual countries. The U.S. Pavilion is owned and managed by the Peggy Guggenheim Collection in Venice.
Robert Colescot: Recent Paintings was organized by independent curator Miriam Roberts in association with SITE Santa Fe, a center for international contemporary art in New Mexico. Following its presentation in Venice, the exhibition has toured the U.S. for two years under the administration of the University of Arizona Museum of Art, Tucson. The exhibition has traveled to the University of California Berkeley Art Museum, University of Arizona Museum of Art, Portland Art Museum, Oregon, and the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, among others. An exhibition catalogue featuring essays by Miriam Roberts and Lowery Stokes Sims will be available for purchase at the Sheldon Gift Shop.
Major support was provided by the Fund for U.S. Artists at the International Festivals and Exhibitions, a public and private partnership. Generous additional support was provided by the Florsheim Art Fund, Tampa, Florida; the L.E.F. Foundation, St. Helena, California; and LewAllen Contemporary and Cline Fine Art, Santa Fe, New Mexico. Critical support for publication of the catalogue was provided by Arlene and Harold Schnitzer and Gordon D. Sondland and Katherine J. Durant Foundation, Portland, Oregon, and the Elizabeth Firestone Graham Foundation, Albuquerque, New Mexico.
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For further biographical information on selected artists cited in this article please see America's Distinguished Artists, a national registry of historic artists.
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