Art and Race Matters: The Career of Robert Colescott

The most comprehensive volume devoted to the life and work of pioneering African American artist Robert Colescott, accompanying the largest traveling exhibition of his work ever mounted.

Robert Colescott (1925-2009) was a trailblazing artist, whose august career was as unique as his singular artistic style. Known for figurative satirical paintings that exposed the ugly ironies of race in America from the 1970s through the late 1990s, his work was profoundly influential to the generations of artists that have followed him, such as Kara Walker, Kehinde Wiley, and Henry Taylor, among many others.

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 cocurator, 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 Relying on previously unpublished transcripts of lectures, reviews, and archival materials provided by institutions and individuals, the book will provide a fuller story of the artist's life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.

About The Author

Raphaela Platow is the Alice & Harris Weston Director and Chief Curator of the Contemporary Arts Center, Cincinnati. Lowery Stokes Sims is a dedicated advocate for diversity and inclusion in the art world. She is an independant curator after working for the Museum of Arts and Design, the Studio Museum in Harlem, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Matthew Weseley is an independent art historian. He is currently working on an academic monograph on the work of Robert Colescott.

  • Publish Date: September 24, 2019
  • Format: Hardcover
  • Category: Art - Individual Artists - Monographs
  • Publisher: Rizzoli Electa
  • Trim Size: 9 x 12
  • Pages: 252
  • US Price: $60.00
  • CDN Price: $80.00
  • ISBN: 978-0-8478-6695-3


"Art and Race Matters offers a generous introduction to an understudied artist and will likely launch a new era of interest in Colescott’s life and work. Long described as laying the groundwork for contemporary art stars like Kehinde Wiley, Mickalene Thomas, Kara Walker, and Michael Ray Charles, Colescott was one of the earliest artists to provoke controversy for his use of Black stereotypes and so-called “negative imagery.” Paging through the illustrations of the book, one is struck by the abundance of insight, research, wit, and complexity in Colescott’s images. The density of his paintings, and the effort and learning it takes to unravel them, offers a stark contrast to our current environment of political pronouncements in 140 characters or less. . . .The work does not offer easy solutions or slogans and is almost never reassuring, but it pushes us to ask hard questions, feel uncomfortable, and laugh at ourselves along the way." —Jessi DiTillio, College Art Association Review

“Art and Race Matters: The Career of Robert Colescott
is accompanied by a fully illustrated 252-page catalogue published by Rizzoli Electa. Featuring the contributions of more than ten curators and writers, including a major essay by Sims, and a selection of writings by the artist himself, the publication is the most comprehensive volume devoted to the life and work of Colescott to date." —FORBES