Black artist, black subjects and black critics

Talk at Boston University about arts criticism



Discussing 3 works of Black subjects Martin Luther King sculpture by John Woodrow Wilson, painting of Emmett Till by Dana Schultz , Vogue photoshoot by Juergen Teller, inspired by Mickalene Thomas.


Who and what can be a critic

What stage art is critiqued on

How institutions, curators, galleries, and artists respond

Who leads the critique?

What platform allows space for the critique?


Dana Schutz “Open Casket”, 2016

White Artist, Black Subject, Black Critic

“Open Casket” - Open Casket is a 2016 painting by Dana Schutz. It is a portrait of Emmett Till, a black 14-year-old boy who was lynched by two white men in Mississippi in 1955. It was one of the works included at the Whitney Biennial exhibition in New York in 2017. The painting caused considerable controversy, with protests and calls for the painting's destruction.

Artists as critic, Physical protest as critic, Boycott as critic - Artworld stage

Hannah Black’s letter

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/arts-and-entertainment/wp/2017/03/23/dana-schutz-responds-to-outcry-over-her-controversial-emmett-till-painting/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.52bc5080c99b

“Black Death Spectacle” protest group- Patricia Bright

Dana Schutz at the Ica

https://news.artnet.com/art-world/dana-schutzs-exhibition-at-the-ica-boston-faces-protest-1033961

Whitney biennial curators response (Washington Post Article)


John Woodrow Wilson, “MLK” bronze in MLK park in Buffalo NY, 1983

Black Artist, Black Subject, Black Critic

Created by renowned African-American artist John Woodrow Wilson in 1983, the sculpture hovers over a stone ledge inside the 50-acre park, which was designed by Olmsted and Vaux in the 19th century. Upon installation decades ago, the statue wasn’t widely praised for its likeness, but Wilson reportedly sketched the bust not to entirely resemble Dr. King, but rather, to look like an “everyman” that young black men and others could see themselves in.

Petitions as critic, Twitter as critic - Local News as stage

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. 1985, John Wilson, MFA.org https://www.mfa.org/collections/object/dr-martin-luther-king-jr-310957

Petition Phase One, fundraising phase two, install by 2020

Thousands back push to replace Martin Luther King bust with better likeness, buffalonews.com https://buffalonews.com/2018/10/19/signatures-for-change-of-martin-luther-king-jr-bust/

More than 6,000 signatures collected to remove statue from MLK Jr. Park, wivb.com https://www.wivb.com/news/local-news/more-than-6-000-signatures-collected-to-remove-statue-from-mlk-jr-park/1542844736

Black Twitter

Activists Are Demanding This Bust Of MLK Be Replaced With One Actually Resembling The Icon,blavity.com https://blavity.com/activists-are-demanding-this-bust-of-mlk-be-replaced-with-one-actually-resembling-the-icon

Replace the statue

Buffalo Residents Want a Remake of a Busted Bust of MLK, hyperallergic.com https://hyperallergic.com/467426/buffalo-residents-want-a-remake-of-a-busted-bust-of-mlk/


Mickalene Thomas vs. Juergen Teller: Style, culture, and accessibility

White Artist, Black Subject, Critics

Juergen Teller January 28, 1964 (age 54) is a German fine-art and fashion photographer.

Mickalene Thomas January 28, 1971 (age 47) is a contemporary African-American artist best known for her complex paintings made of rhinestones, acrylic, and enamel. Her work draws from Western art history, pop art and visual culture to examine ideas around femininity, beauty, race, sexuality, and gender

10min

Instagram as critic, High Fashion as critic, -Popculture as Stage

Althea Criticism

Did Juergen Teller’s Vogue Photo Shoot of Rihanna Rip Off Mickalene Thomas? Twitter Certainly Thinks So,artnet.com https://news.artnet.com/art-world/juergen-tellers-vogue-rihanna-mickalene-thomas-1322729

In Rihanna Photoshoot for Vogue Paris, Juergen Teller Cribs Imagery from Mickalene Thomas, hyperallergic.com https://hyperallergic.com/452631/rihanna-vogue-paris-juergen-teller-mickalene-thomas/

Amber Lehman Maupin Gallery response

Vogue’s Photos of Rihanna That Rip Off Mickalene Thomas Go Beyond Plagiarism, observer.com

https://observer.com/2018/07/juergen-tellers-photos-of-rihanna-for-vogue-rip-off-mickalene-thomas/



Artists as critic, Physical protest as critic, Boycott as critic - Artworld stage

Petitions as critic, Twitter as critic - Local News as stage

Instagram as critic, High Fashion as critic, - Pop culture as Stage



White Artist, Black Subject, Black Critic

Black Artist, Black Subject, Black Critic

White Artist, Black Subject, Critics

Who leads the critique? What platform allows space for the critique?

Where are the black art critics ?




2017 by Althea Bennett & Amber Torres