Art and Race Matters: The Career of Robert Colescott | Sarasota Art Museum, Sarasota, FL

May 29 – October 31, 2021

More information on the exhibition

Art and Race Matters:
The Career of Robert Colescott
Sarasota Art Museum, Sarasota, FL

Co-curated by Lowery Stokes Sims and Matthew Weseley, and organized by Raphaela Platow

Following presentations at the Contemporary Arts Center, Cincinnati, OH and the Portland Art Museum, Portland, OR, the Sarasota Art Museum is pleased to present Art and Race Matters: The Career of Robert Colescott. This traveling exhibition is the first comprehensive museum retrospective presenting the works of Robert Colescott, one of America’s most compelling and controversial artists. The exhibition will reveal over 50 total works made throughout 53 years of his career that both bring to the surface and challenge diversity and racial stereotypes.

Art and Race Matters invites a renewed examination of the artist, whose work is still as challenging, provocative, and relevant now as it was when he burst onto the art scene over five decades ago. Presenting works from across Colescott’s career, the exhibition traces the progression of his stylistic development and the impact of place on his practice, revealing the diversity and range of his oeuvre: from his adaptations of Bay Area Figuration in the 1950s and '60s, to his signature graphic style of the 1970s, and the dense, painterly figuration of his later work. Art and Race Matters also explores prevalent themes in Colescott’s work, including the complexities of identity, societal standards of beauty, the reality of the American Dream, and the role of the artist as arbiter and witness in contemporary life.

“Robert Colescott is an artist I have been interested in for a long time as a painter and astute purveyor of American society,” says Contemporary Art Center’s Alice & Harris Weston Director, Raphaela Platow. “I feel strongly that Colescott’s exploration of race, identity and politics in the US are as pertinent as ever. This major survey outlining Colescott’s overall contribution is a timely undertaking that will also reevaluate the artist's place within the art discourse.”


A catalogue highlighting Robert Colescott's extensive career was published by Rizzoli Electa alongside the exhibition. Art and Race Matters: The Career of Robert Colescott is edited by Lowery Stokes Sims and Raphaela Platow, with a contribution by Matthew Weseley.  

This volume surveys the entirety of Colescott's body of work, with contributions by more than ten curators and writers, including a substantive essay by the show's co-curator, the renowned Lowery Stokes Sims. It provides a detailed stylistic analysis of his politically inflected oeuvre, focusing on Colescott's own consideration of his work in the context of the grand traditions of European painting and contemporary polemic. In addition, the book features reminiscences and thought pieces by a variety of family, friends, students, curators, dealers, and scholars on his work as well as a selection of writings by the artist himself. Relying on previously unpublished transcripts of lectures, reviews, and archival materials provided by institutions and individuals, the book will provide a fuller story of the artist's life and career.

Available here.
Hardcover; 252 pages
New York: Rizzoli Electa, 2019
ISBN: 978-0-8478-6695-3
9 x 12 inches

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