As a whole, the African-American style of art was always overlooked and considered an outsider style. For years, when you saw any style of art, it was the glorious European artworks that have inspired the world many times over. The problem is for a very long time there were no representation of our people, and if you found an artwork, it was portrayed by another race that showed us in a negative light. However, with a lot of effort there were trail blazers old and new that have been fighting to move our art and stories to the forefront. The 1800s gave us Henry O. Tanner, who became the first internationally accredited artist in France while Robert S. Duncanson of the Hudson River Art School fought to be seen in the US. Some considered him the greatest landscape painter in the West, but the great Albert Bierstadt and Frederic Church eternally eclipsed him.
In the 60s Abstract Expressionist Edward Clark, Alma Thomas and Norman Lewis made waves in the same circles as their glorified counterparts. The first biggest African-American movement was the Harlem Renaissance were black art was front and center but was still not embraced by mainstream art or blue chip galleries. The art was about the people and for the people. This was an alternative approach to circumvent mainstream art and highlighted our culture by bringing it directly to the hearts and homes of art lovers.
The abuse of our culture is not new, and throughout history there have been people taking action to correct and identify the injustices. The artist Benny Andrews was such a person who led the first protest of The Metropolitan Museum of Art for misrepresentation of African-American art and culture. It has been a long fight to get our people in the top art shows, blue chip galleries, and art history books. Today, thanks to artist like Kerry James Marshall, Kara Walker, Thrasher Gates, Mark Bradford and African-American mega collectors, you can see our art in history books, international exhibits and major art auctions.
Over the years African-American art has become a popular commodity, and the world has been responding more and more to the artworks. It is a great time to be an African-American artist, and we must do our best to represent our people for the future and continue to make the best art we can. Unfortunately, the buzz has made this type of art a target for art forgers, scams and thieves. Un like the old masters and modern art who has been sold, collected, and documented for decades, African-American art does not have that kind of history to draw from. This makes it a prime target for art scams. Famous art forger Ken Perenyi has stated the lack of oversight and documents would make it easy to make forgeries.
This painting I felt compelled to make to speak about a current art crime. There is a tanuki (a trickster) out there that has been making black art... disguised as a black woman. But in reality, he is a white man using a fake gender and race. I know what you are thinking, and he does not represent the LGBQ community in any way. He has also faked other race’s and cultural art, sometimes posing as a white woman. Using this ruse over many years, he has risen quite high in the black online gallery area .
African-American Art Matters
I like his art, and not to rant, but REALLY... he is taking from so many talented artists that are looking to work with these top black art galleries and distributors. I have seen quite a bit of his art and the funny thing is; I think he could make it on his own merit. Although I am not using his name or the galleries that are misleading people who just want nice art. Doing a little searching you can find him and the artworks that are still being sold. Art is personal, and it really hits home, I think because we have so much invested in our history of art to be recognized, that being misrepresented is a crime. This person Sarah has committed a shameful act, and I have used it as inspiration to create a painting that is truly made by the people for the people. Whenever you can get to know the artist you like, try to talk to them or follow them on whatever social media they use. Black art is a personal style, that means connection with the artist on some level.
If you enjoyed this article, let me know! I welcome you to join my world of art, visit vincentkeele.com and connect with me via email or social media.
Do you know someone who would enjoy reading this? If so, please forward it to them.