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A fun and fact-filled introduction to the dismissed Black art masters and models who shook up the world.
Elegant. Refined. Exclusionary. Interrupted. The foundations of the fine art world are shaking. Beyoncé and Jay-Z break the internet by blending modern Black culture with fine art in their iconic music video filmed in the Louvre. Kehinde Wiley powerfully subverts European masterworks. Calls resonate for diversity in museums and the resignations of leaders of the old guard. It’s clear that modern day museums can no longer exist without change—and without recognizing that Black people have been a part of the Western art world since its beginnings. Quietly held within museum and private collections around the world are hundreds of faces of Black men and women, many of their stories unknown. From paintings of majestic kings to a portrait of a young girl named Isabella in Amsterdam, these models lived diverse lives while helping shape the art world along the way. Then, after hundreds of years of Black faces cast as only the subject of the white gaze, a small group of trailblazing Black American painters and sculptors reached national and international fame, setting the stage for the flourishing of Black art in the 1920s and beyond. Captivating and informative, BLK ART is an essential work that elevates a globally dismissed legacy to its proper place in the mainstream art canon. From the hushed corridors of royal palaces to the bustling streets of 1920s Paris—this is Black history like never seen before.
“This is a welcome new voice to the generally staid conventions of art history. A lively, engaging examination of a serious and under-addressed topic.” — Library Journal
"BLK ART is a must have for every art history enthusiast! Through her gorgeous curation and spot on commentary, Ware has shined a light on black creators and previously left out art pieces that deserve to be in the grandest museums." — Rachel Ignotofsky, best-selling author, creator of Women In Art
"This is the book we all needed growing up, a comprehensive and broad visual summary of people and events of the past. Zaria has woven together a story that has shown us that the past is still present with us, and people of every generation, color, and gender need to get behind this legacy piece." — Lavinya Stennett, writer, author, founder, and CEO of The Black Curriculum
"BLK ART is a gorgeous tribute to the Black brilliance that redefined fine art in the western world. Each chapter pulls lesser known Black painters, sculptors, and models from the margins of the canon and places them front and center--where they belong. Smartly researched and entertaining, this is a book art experts and those with a budding interest will enjoy." — Tanisha C. Ford, professor of history, CUNY, author of Dressed in Dreams: A Black Girl's Love Letter to the Power of Fashion
"I love this book so much. From its impressive sweep of historical and religious paintings to its storytelling through art, it is a must have for anyone interested in how art intersects with human history. I'm never loaning this to anyone." — Paterson Joseph, award-winning actor, author of The Secret Diaries of Charles Ignatius Sancho
"BLK ART is the kind of book one keeps picking up to read in bits and pieces and to share details with friends; the kind of book that becomes part of your daily life for a while, and by the time you have really finished it, unnoticed, you will have made the drive your own." — Elmer Kolfin, professor of art history, University of Amsterdam