Times Critics’ Top Art Books of 2019
Art and Race Matters: The Career of Robert Colescott
By Raphaela Platow and Lowery Stokes Sims (Rizzoli Electa)
The biracial artist Robert Colescott (1925-2009) didn’t fully claim his black identity until he was in his 40s, but he did so with a vengeance in a series of hair-raisingly funny, offend-everyone paintings that marked him as one of 20th-century America’s most incisive satirists. The catalog for his current traveling retrospective (organized by the Contemporary Arts Center in Cincinnati, where it’s on view through Jan. 12), covers the span of his art. But it also concentrates on the late, richly brushed political takedowns in his works, which anticipate, in tone, one of the stand-up comic strategies of current White House Twitter discourse: delivery of weaponized insults followed by a “just kidding” that no one is meant to believe.