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Exploring art by and about people of African descent, primarily through the lens of books, magazines and catalogs, Culture Type features original research and reporting and shares invaluable interestingness culled from the published record on black art.

Books & Catalogs
Culture Talk: Ian Berry on New Alma Thomas Exhibition Catalog, an Encyclopedic View of the Singular Artist

Culture Talk: Ian Berry on New Alma Thomas Exhibition Catalog, an Encyclopedic View of the Singular Artist

ALMA THOMAS, “End of Autumn,” 1968 (acrylic and graphite on canvas). | Collection of Richard Grossman and Adam Sheffer; Courtesy Studio Museum in Harlem   EXPLAINING HER CHOICE to focus on brightly hued abstract work, Alma Thomas (1891-1978) said in 1970: “Through color, I have sought to concentrate on beauty and happiness, rather than on...
Book Report: New Titles Explore Work of Artists Shinique Smith, Rashid Johnson, and Whitfield Lovell

Book Report: New Titles Explore Work of Artists Shinique Smith, Rashid Johnson, and Whitfield Lovell

BOOK REPORT CHARTS recently published art books. The four titles featured here explore the work of African African contemporary artists Whitfield Lovell, Rashid Johnson, and Shinique Smith through recent and current exhibitions.   “Whitfield Lovell: Kin,” with contributions by Sarah Lewis, Julie L McGee, Klaus Ottmann and Elsa Smithgall, and an introduction by Irving Sandler...
Foodways: Artists and Museums are Embracing the Cultural, Creative and Convivial Aspects of the Culinary Experience

Foodways: Artists and Museums are Embracing the Cultural, Creative and Convivial Aspects of the Culinary Experience

Collection of the National Museum of Africa American History and Culture   AFRICAN AMERICANS have a storied history with food. Published last September, “The Jemima Code: Two Centuries of African American Cookbooks” seeks to tamp down “the demeaning stereotype of an illiterate ‘Aunt Jemima’ who cooked mostly by natural instinct” by emphasizing the contributions women...
Book Report: New Titles on McArthur Binion, Glenn Ligon, Mickalene Thomas, and More

Book Report: New Titles on McArthur Binion, Glenn Ligon, Mickalene Thomas, and More

BOOK REPORT CHARTS recently published art books. Among these six new titles, a number accompany exhibitions of work by African American artists including Norman Lewis, Kerry James Marshall, and Mickalene Thomas. A scholarly study investigates the life and work of early 20th century painter Horace Pippin.   “Suffering and Sunset: World War I in the...
Culture Type Picks: 14 Best Black Art Books of 2015

Culture Type Picks: 14 Best Black Art Books of 2015

MANY OF THIS YEAR’S BEST African American art books were published to coincide with exhibitions. The correlation is not surprising given the caliber of exhibitions on view in 2015, including innovative (“Freedom Principle: Experiments in Art and Music, 1965 to Now”) and long overdue (“Noah Purify: Junk Dada” and “Procession: The Art of Norman Lewis”)...
Architect David Adjaye, the Studio Museum in Harlem, and 21st Century Design

Architect David Adjaye, the Studio Museum in Harlem, and 21st Century Design

  FOR THE FIRST TIME in its nearly 50-year history, the Studio Museum in Harlem plans to construct a new building designed expressly to meet the needs of its ambitious programming. The news came last month, coupled with the announcement that architect David Adjaye is designing the $122 million public-private project made possible by partial...
Faith Ringgold's Latest Children's Book Celebrates 1920s Harlem

Faith Ringgold’s Latest Children’s Book Celebrates 1920s Harlem

  IMAGINE BOARDING HARLEM AIRLINES to journey back in time to the 1920s when the Harlem Renaissance was in full swing. This mesmerizing prospect is the premise of artist Faith Ringgold‘s latest children’s book, “Harlem Renaissance Party.” The story begins with an open invitation written in the sky, “Come one! Come all! To a party...
New York Times Publishes First-Ever, Art-Themed Issue of Sunday Book Review

New York Times Publishes First-Ever, Art-Themed Issue of Sunday Book Review

FEATURING “ILLUSTRATED BOOKS, art-themed fiction, artist biography, nonfiction about the art world, original photography and original artwork,” the New York Times published its first-ever art-themed Sunday Book Review section today (June 28, 2015). The print version arrived in this morning’s paper, but the reviews began appearing online Wednesday and a specially designed web page featuring...
Kara Walker Offers a Critical Assessment of Toni Morrison's New Book

Kara Walker Offers a Critical Assessment of Toni Morrison’s New Book

View image | gettyimages.com FOR TWO DECADES, KARA WALKER HAS PURSUED a unique practice focused on exploring the history of race, gender, power and exploitation in the antebellum South through large-scale cut-paper silhouettes, drawings, watercolor and video animation. The artist’s primary subject parallels that of Toni Morrison’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel “Beloved” (1987), as well as...
The Year in Black Art Books, Catalogs and Magazines 2014

The Year in Black Art Books, Catalogs and Magazines 2014

IT WAS A THRILL TO OPEN the January issue of W magazine and find photographer Lorna Simpson’s evocative images of the cast of “12 Years a Slave” and conclude the year with a package delivered after Christmas containing “Du Bois in Our Time,” a visual testament to the intellectual’s legacy. In the months between, some...
11 Best Black Art Books of 2014

11 Best Black Art Books of 2014

THE BEST EXHIBITION CATALOGS do more than document their gallery counterparts. They provide critical context, visual reference, an opportunity for innovative design that reflects the work, and a format in which the exhibition can live beyond its presentation dates. This year, there were a number of remarkable exhibitions featuring Black artists and the coinciding catalogs...
Shelf Worthy: New Books on Black British Artists, Chris Ofili, Basquiat and More

Shelf Worthy: New Books on Black British Artists, Chris Ofili, Basquiat and More

A SELECTION OF SHELF-WORTHY, COFFEE TABLE-READY books and catalogs published recently that explore black art and artists “The Image of the Black in Western Art, Volume V: The Twentieth Century, Part 2: The Rise of Black Artists” edited by David Bindman and Henry Louis Gates Jr. (Belknap Press, 368 pages) Since 2010, Harvard University Press...
A Browse Through the 'Ideal Bookshelf' of Hilton Als

A Browse Through the ‘Ideal Bookshelf’ of Hilton Als

HILTON ALS’S IDEAL BOOKSHELF is an economic selection of seven books including “The Price of the Ticket: Collected Nonfiction, 1948-1985” by James Baldwin and titles by Marcel Proust, Truman Capote, Nathaniel Hawthorne and Anton Checkhov. The New Yorker writer’s choices are included in “My Ideal Bookshelf,” a compilation of artist Jane Mount’s work. Her portraits...
'Witness': Artists Offer Powerful Visual Voice for Civil Rights Era

‘Witness’: Artists Offer Powerful Visual Voice for Civil Rights Era

TWO YEARS AFTER MARTIN LUTHER KING JR. was assassinated on April 4, 1968, Sam Gilliam created “Red April.” The draped canvas makes a bold statement with its candid reference to splattered blood in the wake of an assassin’s bullet. Gilliam, an internationally known artist whose work is influenced by Abstract Expressionism, is recognized for his...