Session will present: Virtual
Julie L. McGee, University of Delaware
Black Collage, before and beyond Romare Bearden, respects the multivalent nature inherent to Black and Collage. How have and do artists and scholars participate in the un-doing of modernist tropes associated with a history of collage that displaced Black subjectivity and agency? Black collage may adhere to a practice of coller, in reference to the French verb which means to paste or glue, but in ways that don’t inherently bind this practice to European Modernism, Pablo Picasso or Georges Braque. Suppose coller hews more to adhesive than metaphor–that Black collage transcends pieces for compositional uniqueness, a symphony’s manuscript. Black American artists used collage before Bearden, yet there is no denying the centrality of his work to this conversation. Indeed, Bearden’s significance calls us to think deeply about the extended practice and importance of collage and Black artists. Among the many who have are Ralph Ellison, Kobena Mercer, Patricia Hills, James Smalls, Jacqueline Francis, Ruth Fine, and Brent Hayes Edwards. In early 1961, while living in Stockholm, Sam Middleton completed a treatise on collage that placed his own work in a direct line of inheritance from Picasso and Cubism to Surrealism and Dada—for its radical aesthetic refusals and nowness. Appropriating Shahn, Middleton wrote, “Art always has its ingredients of impudence, its rejection of established order so that it may substitute its own fresh and contemporary authority and its own enlightenment.” This session invites contributions related to Black collage, audacity and enlightenment. Considerations of history, theory, conservation, and artistic practice are welcome.