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How a Businesswoman Became a Voice for Art’s Black Models - The New York Times
By Melissa Smith
Dec. 26, 2018

Curator Denise Murrell focused on the works of 19th century [ ] Édouard Manet....
Revealing that maid’s identity became the foundation of Ms. Murrell’s doctoral dissertation, and the driving force behind her exhibition “Posing Modernity: The Black Model From Manet and Matisse to Today,” currently on view at the Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Art Gallery at Columbia University.....“A person of color who is standing right there before you, and being ignored, is something that is part of the condition of being” part of the African diaspora to begin with. Art historians play a significant role in shaping our understanding of the past. It bothered her that their narratives would rewrite, subjugate or exclude the history of black people.......Ms. Murrell went on to reconsider Matisse’s use of black models in light of his trips to New York during the Harlem Renaissance, and circled back to the question that triggered her entanglement with art to begin with: How have contemporary black and nonblack artists reflected on these black figures in their work? “You can’t really understand African-American art and visual culture and artistic production without understanding a lot of what it is reacting to,”......Scholarship around black representation is growing, though gaps remain. And museums are increasingly addressing the full range of their communities, and the needs of a public more attuned to issues of race — approving exhibitions, like Ms. Murrell’s, that probe what blackness really means in the context of art history.....When Ms. Murrell ran into roadblocks, she found funders and strong-armed institutions for loans. Ms. Murrell said that while curators, art historians, gallery owners and others in the art community are sincere when they talk about diversity, they are also reluctant to dismantle established norms, including those that work against people of color. Larger institutions want to play it safe, and often refrain from funding unconventional scholarship. “There’s the concern that if you talk about race or any other kind of marginalized subject, how broad is the interest going to be?” Ms. Murrell said. Leaning on a mentorship model borrowed from her time in the corporate world, Ms. Murrell said she wants to create an incubator for minorities with new ideas.
African-Americans  art  art_history  blackness  curators  exclusion  exhibitions  marginalization  PhDs  artists  playing_it_safe  visual_culture  race  women 
december 2018 by jerryking
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