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Title

Robert Colescott, Exotique (1994)

Author

Walker Art Center

Date

1998

Institution Walker Art Center
"The art of irony that I employ is based on exaggeration, and art in general is based on distortion."--Robert Colescott

In the mid-1970s, Robert Colescott began a series of paintings in which he appropriated masterworks by such artists as Pablo Picasso, Édouard Manet, and others. These early works ridiculed stereotypical white perceptions of what it means to be black, thus subverting the iconic status of "master" paintings.

In Exotique, Colescott complicates his sharp sense of irony further. As the mustached Frenchman in this painting compliments his dancing partner for being exotic, she corrects "exotic" and changes it to "Afrocentric," in hip vernacular. Not only are white inventions of the exoticized black body problematized, so too is inventive black participation in the construction of identities of "otherness." Employing a host of shorthand symbology--West African cloth, comic-strip dialogue balloons, a masked reclining figure à la Picasso--Colescott exposes our intricate, if not explosive, relationship to art historical, filmic, and contemporary popular representation.

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Type: Commentary, object label
Source: Label text for Robert Colescott, Exotique (1994), from the exhibition Selections from the Permanent Collection, Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, December 8, 1996 to April 4, 1999.
Rights: Copyright 1998 Walker Art Center
Added to Site: March 1, 2009