Tuesday, July 16, 2024

5 New Books Focus on Artists Ming Smith, Wangechi Mutu, Romare Bearden, Caribbean Art, and Found Photos of Black Life


WHEN IT COMES TO illustrated art books, 2023 is off to a promising start. A selection of five newly published volumes dedicated to the work of Black artists includes the first monograph of Kenyan-American artist Wangechi Mutu. New books also consider works by Ming Smith and Romare Bearden; explore a collection of found photographs; and document a contemporary Caribbean art exhibition:


“Wangechi Mutu (Phaidon Contemporary Artists Series),” with contributions by Adrienne Edwards, Courtney J. Martin, Kellie Jones, and Chika Okeke-Agulu (Phaidon Press, 160 pages). | Paperback, Published Jan. 4, 2023


Wangechi Mutu (Phaidon Contemporary Artists Series)

Kenyan-American artist Wangechi Mutu creates fantastical universes populated by powerful women and informed by cosmology and the natural world. Expressing herself through paintings, collages, and sculptures, her alternative contexts address real world narratives and challenge colonial legacies and traditional art histories and power structures. The first monograph to chronicle Mutu’s two-decade career, this fully illustrated volume brings together four prominent contributors: scholar/curators Adrienne Edwards, Courtney J. Martin, Kellie Jones, and Chika Okeke-Agulu.


“Forecast Form: Art in the Caribbean Diaspora, 1990s–Today,” edited by Carla Acevedo-Yates; roundtable with Christopher Cozier, María Campos-Pons, and Teresita Fernández; foreword by Madeleine Grynsztejn; with contributions by Carlos Garrido Castellano,, Genevieve Hyacinthe, Aaron Kamugisha, and Mayra Santos-Febres (DelMonico Books/Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, 288 pages). | Hardcover, Published Jan. 10, 2023


Forecast Form: Art in the Caribbean Diaspora, 1990s–Today

“Forecast Form” presents “a radical rethinking of contemporary art in the Caribbean.” Currently on view at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, the show will travel to the Institute of Contemporary Art Boston this fall. Edited by exhibition curator Carla Acevedo-Yates, the accompanying fully illustrated catalog includes scholarly essays, and a roundtable discussion with artists Christopher Cozier, María Magdalena Campos-Pons, and Teresita Fernández, who are part of an inter-generational group of 37 participating artists. Others include: Candida Alvarez, Firelei Báez, Álvaro Barrios, Frank Bowling, Peter Doig, Denzil Forrester, Felix Gonzalez-Torres, Deborah Jack, Daniel Lind-Ramos, Lorraine O’Grady, Ebony G. Patterson, Keith Piper, Donald Rodney, Tavares Strachan, Cosmo Whyte, and Didier William.


“Romare Bearden: Patchwork Quilt,” by Esther Adler (The Museum of Modern Art, 48 pages). | Paperback, Published Jan. 10, 2023


Romare Bearden: Patchwork Quilt

Part of the MoMA One on One Series exploring art from the collection of the Museum of Modern Art, this relatively small-format publication focuses on one work: “Patchwork Quilt” (1970) by Romare Bearden (1911-1988). In the volume, curator Esther Adler “explores Bearden’s search for his artistic voice” and offers a “close reading of Patchwork Quilt, its sources and materiality…” MoMA acquired the collage the same year it was produced and featured it in “Romare Bearden: The Prevalence of Ritual,” the following year. The solo show was one of the first exhibitions MoMA presented in response to calls from the Art Workers Coalition in 1969 for the museum to be accessible to the public and present programming that showcased more work by women and artists of color.


“Ming Smith: The Invisible Man (MoMA One on One Series),” by Oluremi C. Onabanjo (The Museum of Modern Art, New York, 48 pages). | Paperback, Published Jan. 10, 2023


Ming Smith: The Invisible Man

From 1988 to 1991, New York photographer Ming Smith made a moving series of photographs based the opening lines of “The Invisible Man,” Ralph Ellison’s landmark novel: “I am an invisible man. No, I am not a spook like those who haunted Edgar Allan Poe; nor am I one of your Hollywood movie ectoplasms. I am a man of substance, of flesh and bone, fiber and liquids, and I might even be said to possess a mind. I am invisible, simply because people refuse to see me.” Part of the MoMA One on One Series dedicated to a single work from the museum’s collection, this relatively small-format volume focuses on one image from the body of work, “Invisible Man, Somewhere, Everywhere” (1991), a moody street scene featuring a solitary figure. Authored by photography curator Oluremi C. Onabanjo, the publication coincides with the exhibition “Projects: Ming Smith.” Presented in collaboration with the Studio Museum in Harlem, the show opens at MoMA on Feb. 4.


“What Matters Most: Photographs of Black Life: The Fade Resistance Collection,” Edited by Zun Lee and Sophie Hackett, with contributions by Fred Moten, Stefano Harney, and Dawn Martin, and foreword by Stephan Jost (DelMonico Books/Art Gallery of Ontario, 192 pages). | Hardcover, Published Jan. 10, 2023


What Matters Most: Photographs of Black Life

In 2012, when Toronto artist Zun Lee found “a few orphaned Polaroids” on the street in Detroit, he knocked on doors in the surrounding area attempting to find the owners and return them. With no luck, Lee realized he had landed on an important record of Black life. The discovery was the genesis for what grew over the next six years into the Fade Resistance Collection, an archive of more than 4,000 Polaroids now in the collection of Art Gallery Ontario (AGO). The images from the 1960s to 2000s, capture moments of everyday life; posed portraits (many in front of cars); and milestone celebrations including birthday parties, graduations, and weddings. Published on the occasion of “What Matters Most: Photographs of Black Life” (Aug. 27, 2022-Jan. 8, 2023), an exhibition at AGO, the small-format volume features a wealth of images complete with white Polaroid borders, some with hand-written captions (“Church Day, Stephen and Mom 2/26/94”). CT


Books are listed according to their wide-distribution publication dates

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