Bridging three generations and shaped by distinctive historic events, the large-scale tableaux of Robert Colescott, Kerry James Marshall, and Mickalene Thomas open compelling perspectives on Black culture and representation in an ever changing social and political landscape.
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MOCA is pleased to present a 35-year retrospective of painter Kerry James Marshall, co-organized by the MCA Chicago, MOCA, and The Metropolitan Museum of Art under the leadership of MOCA’s Chief Curator Helen Molesworth. Marshall’s figurative paintings have been joyful in their consistent portrayal of African Americans. The now nearly 600 year history of painting contains remarkably few African American painters and even fewer representations of black people. Marshall, a child of the civil rights era, set out to redress this absence. “You can’t be born in Birmingham, Alabama, in 1955 and grow up in South Central [Los Angeles] near the Black Panthers headquarters,” Marshall has said, “and not feel like you’ve got some kind of social responsibility. You can’t move to Watts in 1963 and not speak about it. That determined a lot of where my work was going to go…”