Colored Pictures: Race and Visual Representation

By Vogl, Mary B. | African Studies Review, September 2004 | Go to article overview

Colored Pictures: Race and Visual Representation


Vogl, Mary B., African Studies Review


LITERATURE AND ARTS Michael D. Harris. Colored Pictures: Race and Visual Representation. Foreword by Moyo Okediji. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2003. xi + 296 pp. Color and b&w illustrations. Notes. Index. $34.95. Cloth.

In Colored Pictures: Race and Visual Representation, the art historian Michael D. Harris proposes to "examine how race has been codified visually and verbally, [to] discuss some of the effects of racial constructions on African Americans, and [to] look at some of the visual responses that have evolved as an effort to counter harmful racial characterizations" (2). He points out that "race is pandemic in the history, structure, institutions, assumptions, values, politics, language and thinking of the United States" (1). For the past two centuries, visual constructions of race helped determine and justify hierarchical power relations, and derogatory images and characterizations of blacks worked to legitimize practices such as slavery and segregation. Harris shows that although black has been a negative signifier in the American consciousness, African Americans have always offered "resistance to their dehumanization and caricature" (14). One of the most compelling aspects of Colored Pictures is its juxtaposition of disparaging representations with those that celebrate African Americans.

In the nineteenth century, for example, the Harper's Weekly Blackville series and the Currier & Ives Darktown Comics lithographs exemplified images that demeaned African Americans. Harris contrasts these with a painting by Winslow Homer and the "counterhegemonic" work of the black artist Henry O. Tanner. In another chapter, he analyzes the ways in which the works of the contemporary artists Donaldson, Overstreet, DePillars, Lockard, B. Saar, and High respond to grotesque images of the stereo-typical character of Aunt Jemima (the "mammy"). In the fourth chapter, Harris argues that "during the nineteenth century, the black female body in art had become a signifier for sexuality" (126). Discussions of depictions of female sexuality, from Manet's famous Olympia to paintings by Titian, Ingres, Gauguin, and Picasso, set the stage for Harris's critiques of "resistant" works by the contemporary women artists Lorna Simpson and Charnelle Holloway. Harris reads "compelling issues of race, gender and class" (165) in eleven paintings by the "color conscious" portraitist Archibald J. Motley Jr. The chapter also includes a discussion of a mixed-race-conscious work by the contemporary Cuban artist María Magdalena Compos-Pons.

Colored Pictures is as much about verbal images and language as it is about visual images. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Colored Pictures: Race and Visual Representation
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.