African American Visual Arts

From Slavery to the Present

By Celeste-Marie Bernier

African American Visual Arts

320 pp., 5.5 x 8.5, 16 color plates, appends., notes, bibl., index

For Sale in U.S. & Dependencies and Canada

  • Paperback ISBN: 978-0-8078-5933-9
    Published: January 2009

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In African American Visual Arts Celeste-Marie Bernier introduces readers to the sheer diversity, range, and experimental nature of African American art and artists and considers their relationship to key motifs within black culture and black experience in North America. The book traces the major developments in African American visual culture from its beginnings in the ceramics and textiles of slave artisans to later contributions in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries to the fine arts and abstract expressionism, sculpture, installation art, video art, and computer graphics.

Bernier analyzes the work of twenty-one artists, including Elizabeth Catlett, Jacob Lawrence, William Edmondson, Howardena Pindell, Charles Alston, Romare Bearden, Norman Lewis, Betye Saar, Horace Pippin, and Kara Walker. She highlights key but frequently neglected and little-discussed black artists, situating their works within their specific historical and political contexts. Bernier provides a new understanding of their relationship to fundamental themes of the black experience such as black stereotyping and caricature in mainstream discourse, poverty in the inner city, and the division between the rural and the urban.

About the Author

Celeste-Marie Bernier is lecturer in American literature at the University of Nottingham.
For more information about Celeste-Marie Bernier, visit the Author Page.


"[A] groundbreaking book. Bernier's aesthetic, formal, historic, and political analyses motivate the creation of bona fide criticism."--Journal of the American Studies Association of Texas

"Presents some compelling art work by a range of modern and contemporary African American artists spanning more than a century. . . . Includes previously unpublished testimony and commentary from the artists themselves to elucidate their creative practices."--H-Net Reviews

"This is the richest and most important book on African American visual arts on the market. It has enormous period coverage without sacrificing rich analysis and depth. It is a book that will be crucial for anyone interested in African American culture, the visual arts, and American studies. It is brilliantly conceived, deeply researched, and very well executed."--John Stauffer, Harvard University