"Andrea Brustolon and Kerry James Marshall: Visualization of Blackness"
Presentation College Art Association 2021 Annual Conference (Feb 10-13, 2021)
Abstract: How does the art object contribute to Western historical narratives that have structured the construction and understanding of Black subjectivity? Through a close analysis of Andrea Brustolon’s Italian Baroque blackamoor sculpture Etiope Portavaso and Kerry James Marshall’s contemporary American Frankenstein painting I examine how the art object creates a window in which to view the complex visual historical legacy of the cultural construct that is the Black subject. The aim of this paper is to use Brustolon and Marshall’s artworks to interrogate defining European historical narratives on the African diasporic body and the hyper-visibility of the Black body in the Western art historical tradition. A critical lens of Fred Moten, Kobena Mercer, and Nicole Fleetwood reveal how the artistic rendering of the Black body tirelessly performs a service for both the creator and viewer. My examination ultimately draws attention to how the visual representations of Blackness across time and region is one marked by the service of reflecting subjective ideological fantasies and constructed historical truths that seemingly need to be depicted, confronted, and exploited in a never- ending spectacle of representation.