Robert Colescott dies at 83

June 10, 2009 · Print This Article

Auvers-sur-Oise (Crow in the Wheat Field), 1981

Auvers-sur-Oise (Crow in the Wheat Field), 1981. Collection of the Corcoran Gallery of Art.

Painter Robert Colescott has died at the age of 83. From his New York Times obituary, by Roberta Smith:

“Mr. Colescott represented the United States at the Venice Biennale in 1997, the first African-American to do so. By then he was well known for pitting the painterly against the political to create giddily joyful, destabilized compositions that satirized, and offended, without regard to race, creed, gender or political leaning.

People of all colors haunt Mr. Colescott’s paintings, mostly as chimerical stereotypes that exchange attributes freely. Their mottled skin tones often suggest one race seeping through another. Their tumultuous interactions evoke a volatile mixture of suspicion, desire, pain and vitality. His slurred shapes, wobbly drawing and patchy brushwork imply that no truths can be held to be self-evident, that life is mired in slippery layers of false piety, self-interest and greed, but also lust, pleasure and irreverence.”

Feeling His Oats, 1988 acrylic on canvas, Collection Albright-Knox Art Gallery.

Feeling His Oats, 1988. Acrylic on canvas, Collection Albright-Knox Art Gallery.

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