A Century of African American Art: The Paul R. Jones Collection / Edition 1

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The Paul R. Jones Collection is one of the oldest, largest, and most comprehensive holdings of African American art in the world.  Jones, who was named by Art and Antiques as one of the top one hundred collectors in the country, began buying paintings, prints, photographs, and sculpture four decades ago and has now amassed over fifteen hundred works, many of them by well-known artists. Among the sixty-six represented in A Century of African American Art are Romare Bearden, Elizabeth Catlett, Jacob Lawrence, Henry Osawa Tanner, James Van Der Zee, Carrie Mae Weems, and Hale Woodruff.

Lavishly illustrated with over one hundred color photographs, this book provides an important resource for the study of the works included in the Jones collection, the artists who created them, as well as the social and historical contexts that engendered them. The volume brings together ten essays, which examine four issues in American art: portraiture and realism in relation to abstract expressionism, the implications of color, the role of narrative, and the concept of multiple originals. Each essay makes the intentional effort to de-race African American art—not to strip the work of its idiomatic cultural footing, but rather to situate it within the larger picture of the nation’s history and cultural traditions.

Reflecting the diversity of the collection itself, the contributors come from wide-ranging fields including American art, African American art, African art, art conservation, color theory, photography, and sociology.  Together, the eclectic selections make a major contribution to recontextualizing African American scholarship in the broadest sense, while also providing important insights into the Jones collection.

Contributors are Marcia R. Cohen, Diana McClintock, Ann Eden Gibson, Winston Kennedy, Debra Hess Norris, Ikem Stanley Okoye, Sharon Pruitt, Carla Williams, and Margaret Andersen.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
This unique book catalogs Paul R. Jones's eclectic collection of African American art, which comprises works of known and lesser-known African American artists reverberating with talent. Edited by Amaki, curator of the collection and professor of art and black American studies at the University of Delaware, where the collection is housed, the book features works that transcend historical afflictions and emerge as testimony to the transformation of the energies of the disadvantaged into creative works. These works speak of, and to, an entire nation. Amaki's introduction provides context for a wonderful visual and intellectual experience. Artist biographies are a helpful addition, as is the index. The artworks are expertly reproduced, with more than 100 color plates on fine-quality paper. This volume will be a great addition to any art collection and is recommended for all academic and larger public libraries.-Edward K. Owusu-Ansah, CUNY Coll. of Staten Island Lib., NY Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780813534572
  • Publisher: Rutgers University Press
  • Publication date: 10/28/2004
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 280
  • Product dimensions: 8.68 (w) x 11.06 (h) x 0.81 (d)

Meet the Author

Amalia K. Amaki is the curator of the Paul R. Jones Collection and an assistant professor of art and Black American studies at the University of Delaware. She is currently writing three books: Freedom Lights the Way: A History of All-Black Shows in America, Posed Pictures: Multiple Readings in the Photographs of Prentice Herman Polk, and Monkeys, Myth, and Mime: The Mature Works of Hale Aspacio Woodruff.
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Table of Contents

Political sight : on collecting art and culture 1
Collage and photomontage : Bearden's spiralist reflections of America and Africa 17
Nanette Carter's discursive modernism : the collage aesthetic in Light over Soweto #5 33
Reign(ing) in color : toward a wilder history of American art 45
On the surface : color, skin, and paint 55
Collecting memory : portraiture, posing, and desire 61
Flash from the past : hidden messages in the photographs of Prentice Herman Polk 69
African American printmakers : toward a more democratic art 79
Afterword : a personal appreciation - art, race, and biography 89
Preservation for posterity : the Paul R. Jones photography collection 95
Plates 103
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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 24, 2005

    A Magnificent Collection - A Magnificent Book

    Paul R. Jones differs from the typical collector of world-class art in too many ways to enumerate. For one thing, he is not independently wealthy nor did he inherit a fortune - no, this son of a miner grew up in a work camp, and for most of his life, his ¿day job¿ has been public service. But he has brought to his collection - and therefore, to us - a personal passion, curiosity and creativity unsurpassed by the likes of Guggenheim or Getty. The ¿dean of African American collectors,¿ Jones avoided trend buying and operated outside the more traditional acquisition modes. He occasionally purchased work he ¿did not understand by artists he did not know¿ because, in his words, ¿something in it drew me in...and I trusted it to take me somewhere...¿ Buying from (at the time) relative unknowns, his purchase often paid the month¿s rent or put food on the table. The result of this 40 year commitment to African American artists is a magnificent panorama encompassing 1500 works by the likes of Romare Bearden, Elizabeth Catlett, Lois Mailou Jones, Betye Saar and more than 60 others. This astounding collection has been donated to the University of Delaware¿s University Museum, and this book helps celebrate the first major exhibition of works drawn from it. The book presents gorgeous reproductions of more than 100 works by 66 artists, with biographical information about them and also about Jones. But it¿s not a mere exhibition catalog; it also presents ten thought-provoking essays which intentionally strive to ¿de-race¿ African American art, placing it within the larger picture of the nation¿s history and cultural traditions. For example, Ikem Stanley Okoye¿s essay ¿Reign(ing) in Color: Toward a Wilder History of American Art¿ explores how the systematic use of color serves purposes other than surface appearance. A magnificent book to celebrate a magnificent collection.

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