October 6, 2022
Educators from the New Museum and the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art investigated one of Robert Colescott’s most well-known paintings, George Washington Carver Crossing the Delaware: Page from An American History Textbook (1975). On loan from the Lucas Museum and featured in “Art and Race Matters: The Career of Robert Colescott,” this work exemplifies Colescott’s mode of inserting Black figures into narratives that have historically excluded or falsely represented Black identities and bodies.
During this live Zoom discussion, led by museum educators Jasmin Tabatabaee of the New Museum and Mariam Tabatabaee of the Lucas Museum, we considered the artist’s work and its broader context through close looking, questions, and group conversation. Participants discussed how the work uses stereotypes and sexually explicit imagery to achieve sardonic and humorous ends. This conversation was open to all art lovers–no prior knowledge necessary.
Robert Colescott, George Washington Carver Crossing the Delaware: Page from an American History Textbook, 1975, Lucas Museum of Narrative Art, Los Angeles, © 2021 The Robert H. Colescott Separate Property Trust/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
The Lucas Museum acquired Robert Colescott's monumental 1975 painting George Washington Carver Crossing the Delaware: Page from an American History Textbook in 2021. Writing about the painting in 1984 for Artforum, program participant Lowery Stokes Sims called it “a veritable masterpiece of unparalleled formal rigor and graphic grandeur,” which “radically rewrites the American national self-mythology, parodying the grandeur of historical genre painting while exposing the structural racial divides of the United States.” Read more about the acquisition.