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Colescott Paintings Use Humor to Deliver Stinging Social Commentary

Posted May 5, 1999

Photo: El Tango

Robert Colescott's El Tango, 1995, acrylic on canvas 84" x 72."

An exhibit of paintings by Robert Colescott, considered one of the most important American figurative painters of his generation, will be on display at the Berkeley Art Museum Wednesday, May 12 through Aug. 29.

Colescott's work addresses a provocative range of topics including sexual desire, racial stereotypes and popular notions of beauty. The artist uses satire and humor to draw the viewer into his energetic and emotionally-charged works.

He is the first African American artist to represent the United States in a single-artist exhibit at the Venice Biennale, the oldest and most prestigious contemporary art festival in the world.

Born in Oakland in 1925, Colescott received his BA from Berkeley in 1949 and his MA in 1952. He was also a visiting lecturer of painting and drawing here on campus from 1974 to 1979. Colescott continues to produce significant work and is an important role model for younger generations of artists.

A roundtable discussion on the arts and African American identity will be held Sunday, May 9 in conjunction with the exhibit. The event features Colescott, artist Carrie Mae Weems, composer Olly Wilson, author Ishmael Reed and landscape architect Walter Hood. Russ Ellis, professor emeritus of architecture, will moderate. The discussion begins at 4 p.m. in Wheeler Auditorium.


May 5 - 11, 1999 (Volume 27, Number 33)
Copyright 1999, The Regents of the University of California.
Produced and maintained by the Office of Public Affairs at UC Berkeley.
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