February 23, 2023
A visual artist and scholars reflected on the lasting impact of artist Robert Colescott’s groundbreaking work and the power that artists have in reinterpreting dominant historical narratives, specifically those that have excluded Black bodies and identities. This conversation was convened on the occasion of a special display of Colescott’s iconic painting—George Washington Carver Crossing the Delaware: Page from an American History Textbook (1975)—on loan from the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art to The Met as part of Crossings, an installation that explored ongoing resonances between past and present artistic expressions—specifically, modern and contemporary responses to Emanuel Leutze’s epic Washington Crossing the Delaware (1851).
Sandra Jackson-Dumont, director and CEO, Lucas Museum of Narrative Art, Los Angeles
Sylvia Yount, Lawrence A. Fleischman Curator in Charge of the American Wing, The Met
Rashid Johnson, artist Lowery Stokes Sims, curator and art historian
Moderated by Akili Tommasino, associate curator, Department of Modern and Contemporary Art, The Met
This program was presented in collaboration with the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
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.