The Image of the Black in Western Art, Volume III, Part 2: From the Age of Discovery to the Age of Abolition: Europe and the World Beyondby David Bindman
In the 1960s, art patron Dominique de Menil founded an image archive showing the ways that people of African descent have been represented in Western art. Highlights from her collection appeared in three large-format volumes that quickly became collector’s items. A half-century later, Harvard University Press and the Du Bois Institute are proud to publish a
In the 1960s, art patron Dominique de Menil founded an image archive showing the ways that people of African descent have been represented in Western art. Highlights from her collection appeared in three large-format volumes that quickly became collector’s items. A half-century later, Harvard University Press and the Du Bois Institute are proud to publish a complete set of ten sumptuous books, including new editions of the original volumes and two additional ones.
Europe and the World Beyond focuses geographically on peoples of South America and the Mediterranean as well as Africabut conceptually it emphasizes the many ways that visual constructions of blacks mediated between Europe and a faraway African continent that was impinging ever more closely on daily life, especially in cities and ports engaged in slave trade.
The Eighteenth Century features a particularly rich collection of images of Africans representing slavery’s apogee and the beginnings of abolition. Old visual tropes of a master with adoring black slave gave way to depictions of Africans as victims and individuals, while at the same time the intellectual foundations of scientific racism were established.
Monumental and groundbreaking volumes...[with] beautifully reproduced and thought-provoking images…A vast array of different "Images of the Black" appear in these volumes, from statues of black saints such as St. Maurice or St. Benedict the Moor, to portraits of notable African ambassadors and kings, poets and musicians, or drawings of literary characters such as Shakespeare's Othello, Aphra Behn's Oroonoko, or Yarico from George Colman's Inkle and Yarico...Africans have been painted and sculpted by some of the most eminent artists in the Western tradition, including Titian, Tiepolo, Rubens, Rembrandt,Van Dyck, Reynolds, Hogarth, Watteau and Gainsborough. More importantly, they have not been caricatured, but sensitively portrayed by these masters, their humanity captured on canvas for all to see...In placing such a vast variety of different images together, both positive and negative, these volumes show that the "Image of the Black" was not at all homogenous but rather reflected the wide range of the Western response to the "other."...Seen through the prism of "Western Art," these "Images of the Black" often tell us more about the Europeans and their agendas than the Africans they portray. Nonetheless, the cumulative effect of the images is to demonstrate a continuous black presence in the Western imagination and experience…This series will pose new questions to scholars of art, history and literature and provoke us all to reconsider the role of "the Black" in Western civilization.
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Paul Gilroy, author of The Black Atlantic: Modernity and Double Consciousness
Meet the Author
David Bindman is Emeritus Professor of the History of Art at University College London.
Henry Louis Gates, Jr., is Alphonse Fletcher University Professor and the Director of the W. E. B. Du Bois Research Institute at the Hutchins Center for African and African American Research, Harvard University.
Jean Michel Massing is Professor in the History of Art at Cambridge University.
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