Painting

Figuring History: Kerry James Marshall, Mickalene Thomas and Robert Colescott @ Seattle Art Museum

Feb 15, 2018 - May 13, 2018Seattle Art Museum, Seatlle

"With retrospectives, you make assessments of what you've done over time. You can see it all in front of you. You know more about what you're trying to get at and how to make it happen. And it's hard to look at things you've done 30 years ago and not think, "Oh, if I knew then what I know now, maybe I would've done this a little differently." So said Kerry James Marshall to Juxtapoz a few months back, a reflection that made it into the our Winter 2018 Quaterly cover story with Mr. Marshall. It's interesting to think of this idea as Mr. Marshall's work will be on display, alongside living artist Mickalene Thomas and the late great, Robert Colescott, in the Seattle Art Museum's newest exhibition, Figuring History, which will run February 15—May 13, 2018. 

This exhibition, Figuring History: Robert Colescott, Kerry James Marshall, Mickalene Thomas, will be bringing together for the first time three leading American artists from three different generations whose work challenges a Western painting tradition that historically erases or misrepresents people of color. . While each artist’s paintings are distinctive in style, subject matter, and the historic moments they reference, collectively they critique and redefine mainstream narratives of history and representation. At the heart of these artists’ portrayals are material and cultural histories centered on Black experiences and perspectives.

Organized by the Seattle Art Museum, the exhibition comprises 25 large-scale paintings on loan from institutions and collections across the country. It features a work from SAM’s collection—the recently acquired Les Demoiselles d'Alabama: Vestidas (1985) by Robert Colescott—as well as three paintings made by Mickalene Thomas specifically for the exhibition. She also presents a staged “living room” installation that visitors can interact with and sit in.

In what will be a standout part of the exhibition, the living artists, Kerry James Marshall and Mickalene Thomas, will appear in conversation about their artistic practices at a free opening celebration on Thursday, February 15 at the Seattle Art Museum from 7—8pm.

Click here to read our cover story on Kerry James Marshall. 

Click here to get your copy of the Kerry James Marshall cover issue, Winter 2018.