Whitfield Lovell: Passages

The most comprehensive survey to date of the contemporary artist Whitfield Lovell, whose poetic and intricately crafted tableaux and installations document and pay tribute to the history and cultural memory of the African American experience.

Whitfield Lovell: Passages accompanies a major traveling exhibition of the artist’s powerful Conté crayon drawings combined with objects to create assemblages and multisensory installations that focus on aspects of Black history, raising questions about identity, memory, and America’s collective heritage. Whitfield Lovell (b. 1959, Bronx), a 2007 MacArthur Foundation fellowship recipient and conceptual artist, creates exquisite drawings inspired by his own collection of vintage photographs of unidentified African Americans taken between the Emancipation Proclamation and the civil rights movement. He pairs his meticulously rendered drawings done on paper or salvaged wooden boards with found objects, creating enigmatic assemblages and stand-alone tableaux that are rich with symbolism and ambiguity and evoke personal memories, ancestral connections, and the collective American past.

This richly illustrated volume features essays by leading scholars that contextualize Lovell’s work through the exploration of compelling elements such as sound and card playing, contemplating memory as method.
Exhibition Itinerary (exh is circulated by American Federation of Arts):

Boca Raton Museum of Art
February 11–May 21, 2023

Virginia Museum of Fine Arts
June 17–September 10, 2023

Arkansas Museum of Fine Arts
October 13, 2023–January 14, 2024

Cincinnati Art Museum
March 1–May 26, 2024

The Mint Museum, Charlotte, NC
June 29–September 22, 2024

McNay Art Museum, San Antonio, TX
October 26, 2024–January 19, 2025

About The Author

Michèle Wije is curator at the American Federation of Arts. Bridget Cooks is associate professor in the Departments of African American Studies and Art History, University of California, Irvine. Cheryl Finley is inaugural director of the Atlanta University Center Art History and Curatorial Studies Collective; a distinguished visiting professor at Spelman College; and associate professor of art history at Cornell University.

  • Publish Date: February 07, 2023
  • Format: Hardcover
  • Category: Art - Individual Artists - Monographs
  • Publisher: Rizzoli Electa
  • Trim Size: 9-1/4 x 11-1/2
  • Pages: 176
  • US Price: $50.00
  • CDN Price: $67.50
  • ISBN: 978-0-8478-7299-2


"Over 350 objects are on display in Deep River and Visitation alone, every item meticulously inventoried, labelled and packed into crates by the exhibition’s organizer, American Federation of Arts, and Lovell’s gallery, DC Moore, to support the show’s national tour. The meticulously physical back-and-forth process is how the artist honors the person’s memory and existence, applying the charcoal, rubbing it with his fingers to achieve the right tone, then erasing some to create highlights. “Whitfield Lovell: Passages,” debuted at the Boca Raton Museum of Art on February 15 and will remain on view there through May 21, 2023, before embarking on a national tour for the next two years. A handsome catalogue accompanies the exhibition." —Forbes

"It is not often that the opening of a traveling museum exhibition — years, if not decades, in the making — is so well-timed that the curators and artists behind it might evince clairvoyancy. Yet that is clearly the case with Whitfield Lovell: Passages, a landmark show debuting at the Boca Raton Museum of Art, which brings together a suite of monumental installations by the artist that beckon viewers to contemplate the larger human quest for equality and the pursuit of a better life — aspirations that transcend time and geography. And while the work in the exhibition was created over the course of three decades, it has immediacy and resonance in the politically charged environment in which we find ourselves in this moment. An accompanying volume, Whitfield Lovell: Passages, is published by Rizzoli Electa." —Avenue

Author Bookshelf: Cheryl Finley