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February 1, 2018 | African American Studies | By admin | 0 Comments

By Phillip Brian Harper

ISBN-10: 1479818364

ISBN-13: 9781479818365

ISBN-10: 1479865435

ISBN-13: 9781479865437

In a massive reassessment of African American tradition, Phillip Brian Harper intervenes within the ongoing debate in regards to the “proper” depiction of black humans. He advocates for African American aesthetic abstractionism—a representational mode wherein an paintings, instead of striving for realist verisimilitude, vigorously asserts its primarily man made personality. retaining that realist illustration reaffirms the very social evidence that it might probably were understood to problem, Harper contends that abstractionism indicates up the particular constructedness of these evidence, thereby subjecting them to serious scrutiny and making them amenable to transformation.

Arguing opposed to the necessity for “positive” representations, Abstractionist Aesthetics displaces realism because the basic mode of African American representational aesthetics, re-centers literature as a crucial website of African American cultural politics, and elevates experimental prose in the area of African American literature. Drawing on examples throughout numerous creative creation, together with the visible paintings of Fred Wilson and Kara Walker, the track of Billie vacation and Cecil Taylor, and the prose and verse writings of Ntozake Shange, Alice Walker, and John Keene, this publication poses pressing questions on how racial blackness is made to imagine convinced social meanings. within the strategy, African American aesthetics are upended, rendering abstractionism because the strongest modality for Black illustration.

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28 Thus reduced to a lowest-­level commonality in which their very humanity was annulled, black people assumed a condition of abstraction whose import was wholly negative. Just like the property relation, however—­which can now be adopted and mobilized by African Americans themselves—­abstraction is neither good nor bad per se, its value instead depending on the functions it is made to serve and the perspective from which it is assessed. 31 Such conformity implicates a disavowal of individual interest whose import is as much intellectual as moral, as it bespeaks not only a selfless preferment of the common good but also the valuation of general principles over concrete particulars—­a mode of abstract reckoning that is understood as the very epitome of rational thought.

Guggenheim Founding Collection, The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. Photo courtesy the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation / Art Resource, NY. ||| 45 figure until it is effectively obliterated in the grid, which thus issues forth as the focal point of the composition. 54 The foregoing example of course implies that it is merely landscape elements (or, for that matter, wholly inanimate objects) that are absorbed within the modernist grid, but while certain instances of postmodernist practice seem engineered to remind us that a specifically human import is also embedded there, they are liable as well to recapitulate the vexed racial politics that I have already suggested informs the grid’s genericizing function.

Org. ||| 35 9 Box cover for Farina cereal, ca. 2010, Farina Mills. as the representative of personhood as such itself furthers his predominance in the sociocultural field. From a certain perspective, of course, this situation merely updates and extends a classical-­European tradition in which the male form was similarly conceived as the epitome of a paradoxically generic perfection. 37 The qualifying phrase clearly indicates that the point of reference here is not any personage taken at random but rather the comparatively rare prime physical specimen, whose ideal relative measurements are detailed at length in the succeeding paragraph of the tract.

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Abstractionist Aesthetics: Artistic Form and Social Critique in African American Culture by Phillip Brian Harper


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