Milwaukee Art Museum to showcase African American contemporary art this summer

May 7, 2013

30 Americans explore identity in contemporary America captivating exhibition coming to Milwaukee Art Museum
Continuing its yearlong celebration honoring American art and artists, the Milwaukee Art Museum presents 30 Americans, showcasing the work of thirty-one contemporary African American artists who tackle issues around race, religion, gender, sexuality, and cultural identity. Opening June 14, this wide-ranging survey drawn from the Rubell Family Collection, Miami, explores ideas central to what it means to be an American.
“The art in 30 Americans is provocative and challenging, and will explore how our identities and histories are varied, yet we are all still Americans,” said Milwaukee Art Museum Director Daniel Keegan. “This is a vastly different exhibition from anything that the Museum has done in recent years.”
30 Americans will feature nearly eighty photographs, paintings, sculptures, installations, and works on paper and in digital media by the following artists: Nina Chanel Abney, John Bankston, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Mark Bradford, iona rozeal brown, Nick Cave, Robert Colescott, Noah Davis, Leonardo Drew, Renée Green, David Hammons, Barkley L. Hendricks, Rashid Johnson, Glenn Ligon, Kalup Linzy, Kerry James Marshall, Rodney McMillian, Wangechi Mutu, William Pope.L, Gary Simmons, Xaviera Simmons, Lorna Simpson, Shinique Smith, Jeff Sonhouse, Henry Taylor, Hank Willis Thomas, Mickalene Thomas, Kara Walker, Carrie Mae Weems, Kehinde Wiley, and Purvis Young.
Placing works by established artists alongside those by emerging artists, the exhibition further compares the power of influence across generations and within communities. Kehinde Wiley’s old master–like portraits of black men made today resonate with Robert Colescott’s paintings from the 1970s–1990s that transpose African American culture in the narratives of art history. Mark Bradford and Shinique Smith from the West and East coasts, respectively, create works that reveal an affinity with Jean-Michel Basquiat’s charged graffiti-based paintings.

“This is not a subtle exhibition. It will inspire discussion,” said Keegan. “Our hope is that visitors will engage in dialogue both in and out of the Museum setting. This exhibition is interactive, and so the programs around it are meant to engage a variety of audiences.”
In conjunction with the 30 Americans exhibition, the Museum is presenting thirty works by thirty Wisconsin African American artists in Schroeder Galleria, entitled “Wisconsin 30.” The installation includes artists such as Marlon Banks, Reginald Baylor, Tyanna Buie, Evelyn Patricia Terry, and Della Wells.
Concurrently in the Contemporary Galleries, works in the Museum’s Collection by African American artists and the five-channel video installation Question Bridge: Black Males will be on view. These complementary installations will remain open during the run of 30 Americans.
30 Americans runs June 14, 2013, through September 8, 2013, and is coordinated at the Milwaukee Art Museum by William Keyse Rudolph, Dudley J. Godfrey Jr. Curator of American Art and Decorative Arts.