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Sale 2323 Lot 124
ROBERT COLESCOTT (1925 - 2009)
Acrylic and gel medium on canvas, 1994. 2135x1830 mm; 84x72 inches. Signed and dated in acrylic, lower right recto. Titled in acrylic, lower left recto. Signed, titled, dated "Jan. 1994," and inscribed "(Suicide, Tragedy)" and "Acrylic and Liquitex" in ink on the cross bar, verso.
Provenance: Phyllis Kind Gallery, New York (1994); Horwitch LewAllan Gallery (1995), Santa Fe; private collection (1995).
Exhibited: Robert Colescott: The One-Two Punch, Scottsdale Center for the Arts, Scottsdale, AZ, February 17 - April 16, 1995, with the label on the frame back.
Robert Colescott was born in Oakland, CA in 1925. His mother, a pianist, and his father, a jazz violinist who supported the family as a porter on the Southern Pacific Railroad, had moved to California from New Orleans in 1919. Sargent Johnson, who worked with Colescott's father on the Southern Pacific, was a family friend. In 1949, Colescott earned a bachelor's degree in painting at the University of California, Berkeley. The next year, he studied with the painter Fernand Léger in Paris, where he developed his keen sense of the history of painting, and the power of historical painting. By the late 1960s, he had found his mature figurative style.
This lush and stirring painting is a wonderful example of Colescott's satirical view of the cultural intersections of race and sex. Here, he tackles one of the most venerable Western literary representations of color. Shakespeare, alongside one of his most famous characters, "the Moor" King Othello, conjures up images from both fire and darkness. Some figures, like the Egyptian queen, Cleopatra, are painted white--in contrast with an obscured dark female figure who inquires "'bout me?"
Colescott's themes of the construction of racial identity continue through 1994 in such works as Exotique, Walker Art Center, and Lightening Lipstick, Indiana University Art Museum. The same year, Colescott was also included in the Black Male: Representations of Masculinity in Contemporary Art exhibition curated by Thelma Golden at the Whitney Museum of American Art. In 1997, Colescott was the first African American chosen to represent the United States at the Venice Biennale. Several of his paintings from the Rubell Family Collection, Miami, were included in the 2011-12 traveling exhibition 30 Americans. Today, his paintings are in major public collections, including the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, DC, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, DC and the Baltimore Museum of Art.
Estimate $50,000 - 75,000