Wall Street Journal Names Contemporary Arts Center's Robert Colescott Exhibition Among the Best Art of 2019

If you haven't yet, you can still catch "Art and Race Matters: The Career of Robert Colescott" at the CAC through Jan. 12

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click to enlarge "The Wreckage of the Medusa" - ESTATE OF ROBERT COLESCOTT // ARTISTS RIGHTS SOCIETY (ARS), NEW YORK. PRIVATE COLLECTION // PHOTO: RAY LITMAN
ESTATE OF ROBERT COLESCOTT // ARTISTS RIGHTS SOCIETY (ARS), NEW YORK. PRIVATE COLLECTION // PHOTO: RAY LITMAN
"The Wreckage of the Medusa"

The year is coming to a close, which means, among other traditions, most publications are rounding up their favorite things — events, films, shows, etc. — of the past 365 days. A Cincinnati arts institution has secured a spot on one such high-profile rundown. 

The Contemporary Arts Center's current exhibition, Art and Race Matters: The Career of Robert Colescott, is featured in the Wall Street Journal's "The Best Art of 2019: Where Knowledge and Beauty Meet." 

The show opened in late September and will be up through Jan. 12, 2020. It marks the first retrospective to span Colescott's career from 1949 to his death in 2009.

"Equally satirical and shocking, (Colescott’s) paintings look cunningly back at their observer, awaiting a response," CityBeat's Jude Noel wrote upon attending the opening this fall. "The first African-American artist to receive a solo exhibition at the Venice Biennale, Colescott explored popular culture as it relates to the black experience, exposing underlying prejudice through a transgressive lens."

Curated by a longtime associate of Colescott's, Lowery Stokes Sims, and historian Matthew Weseley, the exhibition features 85 paintings from over five decades. 

Of the show, Wall Street Journal writes: 

We watch (Colescott) finding his voice, painting in Europe, California and Egypt, then bursting out with the satiric riffs on racism, on tainted representations of fellow African-Americans, on politics, and on art history that established his reputation. We’re thrown off balance by the uneasy coexistence of Colescott’s lush paint handling, expressive drawing, rich color, and often brutal subject matter. We’re attracted by the vital paint and gesture, then realize we’re looking at a fierce skewering of stereotypes: Aunt Jemima as a babe, Picasso’s “Les Demoiselles d’Avignon” in the rural South, Shirley Temple as a black child. Colescott seduces us with paint, sandbags us with unpleasant truths, and makes us think.

Another highlighted art moment from the Buckeye State includes the Cleveland Museum of Art's Michelangelo: Mind of the Master. Featuring drawings for the first time in the United States from the Teylers Museum in the Netherlands, the show "ranges from dry anatomical renderings of musculature to explosive and magnificently wrought studies for figures for the Sistine Ceiling, and beyond," according to the WSJ article. Feel like taking a post-holiday road trip? The exhibition is on display through Jan. 5 at CMA. 

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