Darby English on Social Experiments with Abstract Art
FORART LECTURE 2017
For the 2017 FORART lecture, Darby English (University of Chicago) will present topics related to 1971: A Year in the Life of Color (2016). In this highly original book, English discusses how black American artists in the early 70’s experimented with modernist art and color theory in order to articulate interaction and instability and gain freedom from overt racial representation
Darby English is the Carl Darling Buck Professor of Art History and the College at the University of Chicago, and associate faculty in the Department of Visual Arts and the Center for the Study of Race, Politics, and Culture. His research probes art’s interaction – at the levels of its production, description, interpretation, and analysis – with instituted forms of historical subjectivity and experience. Recent research has focused on artistic and other cultural manifestations of optimism, discomposure, and interculture. More theoretical formulations of English’s work examine the difficulty of studying the foregoing themes at once as historical objects in themselves and negotiating their implications as sources of anxiety about historical change. For this work, English has been the recipient of fellowships and awards from the Clark Art Institute, the Institute for Advanced Study, the National Humanities Center, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts/Creative Capital Foundation, the Getty Research Institute, and the College Art Association.
English is the author of 1971: A Year in the Life of Color (University of Chicago Press, 2016), and How to See a Work of Art in Total Darkness (MIT Press, 2007). He is co-editor of Art History and Emergency (Yale UP, 2016) and Kara Walker: Narratives of a Negress (MIT Press, 2002 and Rizzoli, 2007). A new monograph, To Describe a Life: Essays at the Intersection of Art and Race Terror will be published by Yale University Press in 2018.