This book, which accompanies a large-scale thematic exhibition, considers the experimental impulse in ideas and forms of the blues — and how it is manifested in a variety of works by contemporary visual artists.
Covering nearly half a century and including the works of some 50 artists in a wide variety of media, this book looks beyond ideas of musical category to identify the blues as a visual and cultural idiom that has informed multiple generations of artists — from Romare Bearden and William Eggleston to David Hammons and David Simon, creator of the television series »The Wire«. Generously illustrated with paintings, drawings, photographs, sculpture, installation, and video stills, and containing a wide range of critical writing, poetry, and fiction, the catalog explores topics central to the blues — from articulations of daily life, modes of abstraction and repetition, and self-performance to ecstatic and cathartic expression and metaphors of memory and the archive. Both scholarly and unique, this reimagining of all things »blues« will draw audiences from across cultural and racial boundaries as it celebrates a uniquely American idiom that has made its mark on nearly every contemporary artistic medium.
“A rousing success.”—The Santa Fe New Mexican
Bennett Simpson is Curator at The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles.
George E. Lewis is the Edwin H. Case Professor of American Music at Columbia University.
Glenn Ligon is an artist whose midcareer retrospective was presented at the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, in 2011.