“30 Americans,” Contemporary Arts Center New Orleans

Contemporary Arts Center New Orleans

30 Americans showcases works by many of the most important African American artists of the last three decades. This provocative exhibition focuses on issues of racial, sexual, and historical identity in contemporary culture while exploring the powerful influence of artistic legacy and community across generations.

30 Americans is drawn from the acclaimed holdings of the Rubell Family Foundation in Miami, Florida. New Yorkers Don and Mera Rubell began acquiring contemporary art in the late 1960s. Through their friendships with living artists, particularly young artists, the Rubells collected backwards and forwards, creating networks of intergenerational influence. As a result, the works that comprise the exhibition offer a stylistic conversation among artists of different decades and generations. Minimalism, abstraction, conceptualism, performance, new media, installation art, identity politics, deconstruction, street aesthetics, and the return of figuration—every major development in contemporary art over the past four decades is represented.

Artists in the exhibition include: Nina Chanel Abney, John Bankston, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Mark Bradford, Iona Rozeal Brown, Nick Cave, Barkley L. Hendricks, Rashid Johnson, Glenn Lignon, Kalup Linzy, Kerry James Marshall, Rodney McMillian, Lona Simpson, Shinique Smith, Jeff Sonhouse, Henry Taylor, Hank Willis Thomas & Mickalene Thomas.

30 Americans exhibition at the CAC made possible by The Helis Foundation.

Support for this exhibition comes from the following members of the CAC’s President’s Council: Dathel and Tommy Coleman; Phelps Dunbar; Staci Rosenberg; Aimée and Mike Siegel

Robert Colescott’s cartoon-like painting ‘Sunset on the Bayou’ is a darkly comical take on the imprecision of racial identity in old Louisiana (Rubell Family Collection, Miami).

Robert Colescott

Born in Oakland, CA, 1925

Died in Tucson, AZ, 2009

Satire plays a huge role in Robert Colescott’s vibrant, at times claustrophobic paintings.  Colescott addressed issues surrounding history and racial stereotypes with wry, transgressive humor and keen observation. In 1975, he began creating a series of works that referenced classic Western art but recast central figures as black.

Biographical information courtesy of: Corcoran Gallery of Art and Rubell Family Collection

30 Americans
will be on display at the Contemporary Arts Center New Orleans from Saturday, February 8, 2014 to Sunday, June 15, 2014.