Representing the Black Female Subject in Western Art
Routledge – 2010 – 248 pages
This book offers the first concentrated examination of the representation of the black female subject in Western art through the lenses of race/color and sex/gender. Charmaine A. Nelson poses critical questions about the contexts of production, the problems of representation, the pathways of circulation and the consequences of consumption. She analyzes not only how, where, why and by whom black female subjects have been represented, but also what the social and cultural impacts of the colonial legacy of racialized western representation have been. Nelson also explores and problematizes the issue of the historically privileged white artistic access to black female bodies and the limits of representation for these subjects. This book not only reshapes our understanding of the black female representation in Western Art, but also furthers our knowledge about race and how and why it is (re)defined and (re)mobilized at specific times and places throughout history.
Introduction Part I: From Girls to Women: Locating Black Female Subjects in Western Art 1. Through An-Other’s Eyes: White Canadian Artists – Black Female Subjects 2. Racing Childhood: Representations of Black Girls in Canadian Art Part II: Slavery and Portraiture: Agency, Resistance and Art as Colonial Discourse 3. Slavery, Portraiture and the Colonial Limits of Canadian Art History 4. The Fruits of Resistance: Reading Portrait of a Negro Slave on the Sly 5. Tying the Knot: Black Female Slave Dress in Canada Part III: The Nude and the Naked: Black Women, White Ideals and the Racialization of Sexuality 6. Coloured Nude: Fetishization, Disguise, Dichotomy 7. The "Hottentot Venus" in Canada: Modernism, Censorship and the Racial Limits of Female Sexuality Part IV: From White Marble to Coloured Stone: Aesthetics, Materiality and Degrees of Blackness 8. White Marble, Black Bodies and the Fear of the Invisible Negro: Signifying Blackness in Mid-Nineteenth-Century Neoclassical Sculpture 9. Vénus Africaine: Race, Beauty and African-ness 10. Allegory, Race and the Four Continents: Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux’s Les quatre parties du monde soutenant la sphere céleste. Conclusion: Whiteness as Collective Narcissism, Towards a New Vision
Charmaine A. Nelson is Associate Professor of Art History at McGill University.