By Phillip Brian Harper
In an important reassessment of African American tradition, Phillip Brian Harper intervenes within the ongoing debate in regards to the “proper” depiction of black humans. He advocates for African American aesthetic abstractionism—a representational mode wherein an paintings, instead of striving for realist verisimilitude, vigorously asserts its primarily man made personality. conserving that realist illustration reaffirms the very social proof that it could possibly were understood to problem, Harper contends that abstractionism exhibits up the particular constructedness of these proof, thereby subjecting them to severe scrutiny and making them amenable to transformation.
Arguing opposed to the necessity for “positive” representations, Abstractionist Aesthetics displaces realism because the basic mode of African American representational aesthetics, re-centers literature as a important website of African American cultural politics, and elevates experimental prose in the area of African American literature. Drawing on examples throughout various inventive construction, together with the visible paintings of Fred Wilson and Kara Walker, the tune of Billie vacation and Cecil Taylor, and the prose and verse writings of Ntozake Shange, Alice Walker, and John Keene, this e-book poses pressing questions about how racial blackness is made to imagine yes social meanings. within the method, African American aesthetics are upended, rendering abstractionism because the strongest modality for Black illustration.
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Additional resources for Abstractionist Aesthetics: Artistic Form and Social Critique in African American Culture
9 By thus clinching not just the depiction’s referential purchase but also its historical import, the exactness of Walker’s delineation evidently authorizes a wholly realist account of the work’s significance; and if any such account verges into the sort of literalist understanding that I call into question here, this is arguably due simply to the undeniable accomplishment of Walker’s representational craft. While the rendering is distinguished by Walker’s characteristic lineal accuracy, however, that precision also informs elements in the scene that actually mitigate the latter’s evident realism.
Such figurations inevitably inflict a measure of cognitive violence, essentially compelling one to “let this white-masculine form represent all those who died serving the United States in World War I” (or, as the case may be, “all those who might eat hot cereal”), despite the evident fact that not all such individuals are directly referenced by the depiction. S. M. Viquesney, The Spirit of the American Doughboy, 1920. Pressed copper, life-size. Located at VFW Post 1308, Alton, IL. Photograph by Beverly Bauser, copyright © 2011 Beverly Bauser.
54 The foregoing example of course implies that it is merely landscape elements (or, for that matter, wholly inanimate objects) that are absorbed within the modernist grid, but while certain instances of postmodernist practice seem engineered to remind us that a specifically human import is also embedded there, they are liable as well to recapitulate the vexed racial politics that I have already suggested informs the grid’s genericizing function. S. Navy SEALs (alternatively known as VB39, in keeping with Beecroft’s practice of designating each of her performances with her initials and a sequentially assigned number), which was presented at the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego on June 5 of that year.
Abstractionist Aesthetics: Artistic Form and Social Critique in African American Culture by Phillip Brian Harper