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Making a Show of Discomposure

Making a Show of Discomposure

Contemporary Black Artists in America

(p.123) Chapter 2 Making a Show of Discomposure
Darby English
University of Chicago Press

This chapter explores the exhibition, Contemporary Black Artists in America (CBAA), held at the Whitney Museum. The CBAA was the work of a white man, Whitney's curator, Robert M. “Mac” Doty. It presented dissident artists as, in every sense, a creation of the society they occupied. It offered a lens through which to discern the contested and dynamic nature of the terrain on which stoic formations of blackness were then being established. The CBAA has virtually no art history because it went against pretty much everything about the art's interactions with color and race that gets to be historical. This is why it is so hard to accommodate to social histories of the period that would content themselves to rehash the old antagonisms. However, within the special confines of CBAA, the modernist project and that of interracialization regained a vitality whose loss had seemed assured for some time.

Keywords:   modern art, modernism, art exhibits, Whitney Museum, Robert M. Doty, blackness, interracialization

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