Monday, July 11, 2011

The Corcoran Gallery of Art to Present '30 Americans' Exhibit in Washington, DC

African American Artists Featured in Exhibition Set to Open October 1, 2011

WASHINGTON, DC - This fall, the Corcoran Gallery of Art and College of Art + Design will present 30 Americans, a wide-ranging survey of works by many of the most important African-American contemporary artists of the last three decades.

Often provocative and challenging, 30 Americans focuses on issues of racial, sexual, and historical identity in contemporary culture. It explores how each artist reckons with the notion of black identity in America, navigating such concerns as the struggle for civil rights, popular culture, and media imagery. At the same time, it highlights artistic legacy and influence, tracing subject matter and formal strategies across generations.

Originally displayed at the Rubell Family Foundation in Miami, Florida, 30 Americans has been reconceived for its presentation in Washington. At the Corcoran, the exhibition is organized around the idea of artistic community and legacy, highlighting relationships among artists from older generations and those working today.

Artists in 30 Americans include 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.

30 Americans explores how each artist reckons with the notion of identity in America, navigating such concerns as the struggle for civil rights, sexuality, popular culture, and media imagery,” said Sarah Newman, curator of contemporary art at the Corcoran and curator of the presentation at the Corcoran. “By focusing on the way that individuals carve out their own place in the world, it speaks to the American experience more generally.”

The work in 30 Americans belongs to Miami-based collectors Don and Mera Rubell. “As the show evolved, we decided to call it 30 Americans. ‘Americans,’ rather than ‘African Americans’ or ‘Black Americans’ because nationality is a statement of fact, while racial identity is a question each artist answers in his or her own way, or not at all. And the number 30 because we acknowledge, even as it is happening, that this show does not include everyone who could be in it. The truth is, because we do collect right up to the last minute before a show, there are actually 31 artists in 30 Americans.”

Xaviera Simmons, One Day and Back Then (Standing), 2007. Color photograph, ed. 2/5,30 x 40 inches. Courtesy of Rubell Family Collection, Miami.

30 Americans consists of 76 paintings, sculptures, drawings, photographs, and videos, and includes works of art such as Washington, D.C. native iona rozeal brown’s Sacrifice #2: It Has to Last (after Yoshitoshi’s “Drowsy: the appearance of a harlot of the Meiji era”), 2007, Leonardo Drew’s massive cotton and wax sculpture Untitled #25, 1992,several of Nick Cave’s exuberant Soundsuits, (2006–2008), and Mickalene Thomas’s Baby I Am Ready Now, 2007.

A number of programs and events including a special Meet the Artists series, documentary film screenings and an evening with Don and Mera Rubell—will take place throughout the run of the exhibition, scheduled to run October 1, 2011 through February 18, 2012. The presenting sponsor is Altria Group, Inc. Additional support has been provided by Morgan Stanley. For more information, and for a special “30 Day Countdown to 30 Americans” featuring exclusive videos, images and interactive content, please visit

Top photo: Rashid Johnson, The New Negro Escapist Social and Athletic Club (Thurgood), 2008. Lambda print, ed. 2/5, 69 x 55 1/2 inches. Courtesy of Rubell Family Collection, Miami.

Source and photos:  Corcoran Gallery of Art