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Provocative Vision

Exhibition objects

  • Untitled: Four Etchings
    Untitled: Four Etchings

    Glenn Ligon (American, born New York, New York, 1960)

    Date: 1992
    Accession Number: 1998.456.2a-d

  • Raw Attraction
    Raw Attraction

    Chakaia Booker (American, born Newark, New Jersey, 1953)

    Date: 2001
    Accession Number: 2001.413

  • Shine
    Shine

    Willie Cole (American, born Newark, New Jersey, 1955)

    Date: 2007
    Accession Number: 2008.259

  • Man Spirit Mask
    Man Spirit Mask

    Willie Cole (American, born Newark, New Jersey, 1955)

    Date: 1999
    Accession Number: 2008.263a–c

  • Runaways
    Runaways

    Glenn Ligon (American, born New York, New York, 1960)

    Date: 1993
    Accession Number: 1998.456.1a-k

  • Wise Like That
    Wise Like That

    Whitfield Lovell (American, born 1959)

    Date: 2000
    Accession Number: 2001.83a-c

Featured Media

Provocative Visions: Race and Identity—A Panel Discussion

Program information

The installation Provocative Visions: Race and Identity features acquisitions made during the past sixteen years (1992–2007), many on view at the Museum for the first time. The exhibition examines the ways in which seven contemporary African-American artists challenge accepted perceptions and assumptions about race, gender, and identity, and interject their own cultural heritage and personal histories into their imagery.

This panel brought together three artists featured in the exhibition, Chakaia Booker, Willie Cole, and Whitfield Lovell, and Lowery Stokes Sims, a curator at the Museum of Arts and Design. The panelists discussed the ways they work to challenge accepted assumptions about race, gender, and identity. The panel is introduced by Donna Williams, chief audience development officer, and by Lisa M. Messinger, associate curator, Department of Nineteenth-Century, Modern, and Contemporary Art, The Metropolitan Museum of Art. The discussion is moderated by Charles M. Blow, op-ed columnist, The New York Times.

This program was made possible by Aetna.


Learn more about the exhibition Provocative Visions:
http://www.metmuseum.org/exhibitions/listings/2008/provocative-visions

Learn more about Nineteenth-Century, Modern, and Contemporary Art at the Met:
http://www.metmuseum.org/about-the-museum/museum-departments/curatorial-departments/ncmc

Provocative Visions: Race and Identity

Selections from the Permanent Collection

August 19, 2008–March 22, 2009

This installation features acquisitions made during the past sixteen years (1992–2007), many on view at the Museum for the first time. The thirteen sculptures, prints, and drawings by seven contemporary African-American artists—Chakaia Booker, Willie Cole, Glenn Ligon, Whitfield Lovell, Alison Saar, Lorna Simpson, and Kara Walker—confront issues of racial heritage and identity. The exhibition examines the ways these artists challenge accepted perceptions and assumptions about race, gender, and identity, and interject their own cultural heritage and personal histories into their imagery. It presents them at mid-career with signature images. All of the pieces were acquired by The Metropolitan Museum of Art within a year or two of their creation, and most are being displayed for the first time in this installation.

The seven artists in this exhibition were born in the 1950s or 1960s and were directly affected by the Civil Rights Movement, Feminism, and the Sexual Revolution. When they emerged on the art scene in the 1970s and 1980s these issues were strongly in the forefront of their art. Although they have chosen subjects that are primarily figurative, their meanings go beyond traditional likeness. Rather the figures and faces in these sculptures, drawings, and prints are emblems of societal concerns and metaphors for human experience and collective memory.

Of particular note are the artists' innovative use of materials and techniques, including photography. Chakaia Booker's tire sculpture is one of a number of pieces that utilizes found objects; others include Willie Cole's bicycle and shoe constructions, and Whitfield Lovell's wall tableau with metal implements. Multi-panel prints by Lorna Simpson are based on old photographs and printed on felt boards, while Glenn Ligon�s compositions feature written texts, almost exclusively. The female protagonists in Alison Saar�s and Kara Walker's works comment on the role of women in society. Questions about the past and the present, particularly as they relate to African Americans, resonate in these exhilarating, but disturbing works.