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ART HISTORY LAGS BEHIND OTHER DISCIPLINES IN INCORPORATING ART BY BLACK AND ETHNIC MINORITIES ARGUES RICHARD HYLTON Museums, curators, critics and theorists have done much to address the imbalance of representation in the art world but this is not yet reflected in the teaching of art history.
DECOLONISING THE CURRICULUM
Rasheed Araeen The Reading Room 2017 copies of Third Text magazine installed at Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven
Frank Bowling’s forthcoming major retrospective at Tate Britain has been a long time coming. So long, in fact, that visitors to it will be able to ‘experience’ what Tate describes as ‘the entirety of Bowling’s 60-year career’. As ‘one of Britain’s most visionary painters’ who ‘went on to study at the Royal College of Art alongside David Hockney and RB Kitaj’, and who ‘became the first Black artist nominated as a Royal Academician’, Bowling has finally been recognised by the upper echelons of the UK art establishment. Like Rasheed Araeen’s retrospective in 2017-18, organised by the Van Abbemuseum in Eindoven before touring to the Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art in Gateshead (as well as Geneva’s MAMCO and Moscow’s Garage Museum of Contemporary Art) that charted Araeen’s 60-year career (Interview AM413), Bowling’s retrospective characterises recent institutional attempts at slowly inserting black artists into British art history. It is dif icult to overstate the significance of these exhibitions. Both Bowling and Araeen are in their 80s. Furthermore,
these shows mark a break from posthumous recognition bestowed on artists such as Ronald Moody, Aubrey Williams, Anwar Jalal Shemza and Donald Rodney. Accompanying the display of substantial bodies of work spanning several decades are equally substantial monographs on Bowling and Araeen respectively, which include essays by a coterie of curators, critics and art historians. These exhibitions and monographs reflect the museum sector’s continuing attempts to diversify the canon. But is academia’s instrumental contribution to these exhibitions evidence of a move towards expansive and pluralised notions of art history? In any number of retrospective exhibitions staged in the UK over the past few years, including those on Hannah Höch, Eva Hesse, Thomas Ruf , Käthe Kollwitz and more recently Joan Jonas, Anni Albers and Franz West, academics of en play key roles, be it as curators, writers or advisers. Of en testament to their sustained and prolonged academic inquiry, it follows that these artists figure prominently in
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