No. 377: Toward a fuller American art history

Episode No. 377 of The Modern Art Notes Podcast features art historians Maxwell Anderson and Kellie Jones.

This week’s episode spotlights two strikingly different approaches to addressing gaps in our understanding of American art history by more fully including African-American artists in our national narrative.

First, Souls Grown Deep Foundation president Maxwell Anderson discusses his organization’s project to document, preserve and promote the work of artists from the African-American South and to more fully include their cultural traditions within American art. In 2014 Souls Grown Deep began a program to transfer the majority of the works in its collection — by artists such as Ronald Lockett, Thornton Dial, Mary T. Smith, Joe Minter and the quiltmakers of the Gee’s Bend community in Alabama — to American and international art museums. So far Souls Grown Deep’s efforts have led to the acquisition of hundreds of works by museums such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the High Museum of Art, the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, the Spelman College Museum of Fine Art and more. Many of those museums have organized exhibitions of those acquisitions. FAMSF’s de Young Museum and the Met have included Souls Grown Deep-sourced works in a new, ongoing installations from their modern and contemporary collections.

Then, Kellie Jones, an art history professor at Columbia University, discusses the Getty Research Institute’s new African American art history initiative. Jones is the senior consultant to the new program. It will acquire and make available artist archives, establish a dedicated curatorship in African American art history, make available annual research fellowships and conduct oral histories of key figures across the field. When the Getty announced the program it also announced it was acquiring the archive of Betye Saar, one of the most influential artists of the post-war period.

Air date: January 24, 2019.

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