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Few artistic expression so vibrantly embody at once pain, fear, hope, joy, and dignity as do the paintings, sculptures, photographs, and other works of African American artists. And perhaps that is the way it was destined to be, for as Cedric Dover so poignantly observes in his American Negro Art, "[A]rtists are poets too, and an anthology of the art of a people is a reflection, in poetic images, of their total experience."
The enslavement and forced removal of Africans to the New World initiated several centuries of struggle, yearning, discovery, and triumph. In no other area of their lives did their descendents express more forcefully their experiences than in the unique visual creations that became known as "African American Art." The perseverance of such pioneering black artists as Joshua Johnston, Robert Scott Duncanson, and Henry Ossawa Tanner in the 18th and 19th centuries paved the way for the emergence of 20th-century names like Horace Pippin, Augusta Savage, Elizabeth Catlett, Jacob Lawrence, and John Biggers, who in turn opened the doors for the numerous African American painters, sculptors, photographers, and mixed-media artists working today.
AFRICAN, AMERICAN, UNIVERSAL
Long overlooked by a mainstream America whose attention was fixed on the black musicians and entertainers who helped shape its popular culture, African American contributions to the fine arts are today acknowledged and celebrated. Diverse in style, temperament, and vision, these works share a racial identity and history that define them as "African American," yet they also exude universal messages that go beyond Africa, America, and any single individual's experience. Therefore, library collections should encompass works that address this multidimensional character; the following bibliography highlights print and web resources on U.S.-born black artists, covering a variety of visual art forms (painting, sculpture, photography, etc.) while also acknowledging the individual contributions of artists, educators, collectors, and art historians.
It is important to note that this listing is by no means comprehensive. While the focus here is on contemporary material, i.e., books published or brought back into print within the last decade, no serious library collection can be without such classics as Alain LeRoy Locke's pioneering Negro Art: Past …