Figuring History

Pick of the WeekVisual Arts

Thu Feb 15, 2018 – Sun May 13, 2018

Partner Organization

Seattle Art Museum


Seattle Art Museum
1300 1st Avenue
Seattle, WA 98101

Figuring History: Robert Colescott, Kerry James Marshall, Mickalene Thomas brings together three generations of contemporary American artists whose work challenges a Western painting tradition that underrepresents people of color. The vibrant and monumental paintings by these artists offer bold perspectives on Black culture and representation. Presented together for the first time, the figurative paintings of Colescott, Marshall, and Thomas are shaped by distinctive historic events, unique in style, and united in questioning the narratives of history through Black experience.

The works of these artists together reassess both history painting and history itself through layered references to paintings from the European art history canon. History painting began in 15th-century Europe and traditionally featured imagery that demonstrated the power and the values of the ruling elite. Missing from these works of art were the histories of people of color told on their own terms. In their portrayals, Colescott, Marshall, and Thomas provide testimony centered on Black perspectives in a contemporary context.

PLEASE NOTE: The museum will be open late on February 15 for a FREE public celebration featuring music, performances, art making, and more. From 7 PM - 8 PM that evening, there will be a discussion with two of the artists featured in the exhibit. RSVP on Facebook here

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