Designing a New Tradition: Lois Mailou Jones and the Aesthetics of Blackness (Hardback)
  • Designing a New Tradition: Lois Mailou Jones and the Aesthetics of Blackness (Hardback)

Designing a New Tradition: Lois Mailou Jones and the Aesthetics of Blackness (Hardback)

Hardback 256 Pages / Published: 09/10/2020
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In Designing a New Tradition, Rebecca VanDiveRebecca VanDiver is Assistant Professor of African American Art at Vanderbilt University.r presents a fresh perspective on the art and career of Lois Mailou Jones. Considering the importance of Africa for Jones's work and examining the broader roles played by class, gender, and politics in constructions of African American art histories as a whole, VanDiver makes a convincing case for Jones's lasting place in American art history.

VanDiver repositions Jones's work within the canon of American art, situating the artist's production within the larger cultural and aesthetic debates of the twentieth century, including modernism, abstraction, the Harlem Renaissance, feminism, Negritude, and Pan-Africanism. In doing so, VanDiver reveals one of Jones's most significant contributions to American art: the development of a composite black aesthetic that negotiates African, American, and European artistic traditions to reflect the increasingly fragmented nature of twentieth-century black identity and diasporic experiences. Tracing Jones's aesthetic transformations along a biographical arc, VanDiver offers a new framework for thinking about the connection between America and Africa and the role of the African diaspora in the creation of African American artistic identity.

Accessibly written and filled with fascinating anecdotes about Jones's life and career, her many acquaintances, and the challenges she faced as a black woman artist working in the twentieth century, this book makes a singular contribution to a new and expanded art-historical canon.

Publisher: Pennsylvania State University Press
ISBN: 9780271086040
Number of pages: 256
Weight: 1293 g
Dimensions: 254 x 203 x 23 mm


"Books about artist Lois Mailou Jones have been too few, making VanDiver's meticulous study a milestone in art, women's, and African American history."

-Donna Seaman, Booklist

"While VanDiver has plenty to cover about the artist's contributions, her prose leaves room for a nuanced look at Jones's upbringing."

-Eva Recinos, Hyperallergic

"VanDiver's ambitious volume certainly deserves a place among scholarly books about 'New Negro' artists, such as Renee Ater's Remaking Race and History and Theresa A. Leininger-Miller's New Negro Artists in Paris. As these authors did, VanDiver has excavated facts on an artist's life and work, filling in the substantial gaps in the record about her training and exhibition history."

-Jacqueline Francis, author of Making Race: Modernism and "Racial Art" in America

"VanDiver proves that Lois Mailou Jones was one of the most sophisticated American modernists to look to Africa and the broader African diaspora for artistic inspiration. The author expertly analyzes Jones's extensive body of work, making important use of interviews, Jones's papers, and archives at Howard University, and she presents strong close individual readings of Jones's paintings and collages."

-Phoebe Wolfskill, author of Archibald Motley, Jr. and Racial Reinvention: The Old Negro in New Negro Art

"This monograph not only elevates Jones but is a valuable contribution to the discourse on the visual articulation of Black identity in the twentieth century. Designing a New Tradition should be included in a variety of art history collections, including those with a focus on women artists, Black artists, and the arts histories of Boston and Washington, DC."

-Lynora Williams, ARLIS/NA Reviews

"Erudite, readable, and generously illustrated, this book is a worthy monument to an important figure in the history of art."

-K. P. Buick, Choice

"VanDiver has considerably advanced understanding of Jones's career by contextualizing the artist and her work in light of larger cultural issues and international art movements. [Designing a New Tradition] will be the standard source on Jones for years to come."

-Theresa Leininger-Miller, CAA.Reviews

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