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The Brant Foundation Lecture in Contemporary Art: Dr. Kobena Mercer “Basquiat, Mapplethorpe and Other Bodies”
Tuesday, March 3, 2020,  5 PM
→ Weis Cinema, Bertelsmann Campus Center, Bard College
Mercer 142 113 009p

CCS Bard is proud to present the fourth annual lecture in The Brant Foundation Lecture in Contemporary Art series that will be given by Dr. Kobena Mercer. The lecture entitled “Basquiat, Mapplethorpe and Other Bodies” will be delivered on Tuesday, March 3, 2020 at 5pm at Weis Cinema, Bertelsmann Campus Center, Bard College.

Kobena Mercer’s work has significantly transformed current thinking about art and identity. Currently Professor in the History of Art and African American Studies at Yale University, Mercer has maintained generative relationships with artists throughout his career. In the early 1980s he appeared in a number of significant projects by Isaac Julien; in the early 1990s his words appeared in a seminal project by Glenn Ligon. All the while he was looking at the art of his moment, including Robert Mapplethorpe’s work, from new and challenging viewpoints. His work has been key to understanding the art of our time, and in this way he contributes to the tradition of the Brant lectures, which attempt to understand artmaking and critical thought as one overall project.

Description for “Basquiat, Mapplethorpe and Other Bodies”:

Jean-Michel Basquiat and Robert Mapplethorpe together makes for an odd couple—but what insights does such a pairing offer regarding their mutual investments in race and masculinity under the conditions of the 1980s? Drawing on the distinction Hortense Spillers makes between “flesh” and “body,” this lecture examines historical and contemporary representations of black male bodies in which the intimacy of the erotic is entangled with extremities of racialized violence. Coming up to date with works by Paul Sepuya, Xaviera Simmons, among others, how might the notion of “assemblages” bridge Mapplethorpe’s fascination with skin and Basquiat’s figuration of the skeletal?

Kobena Mercer Biography:

Kobena Mercer is Professor of History of Art and African American Studies at Yale University where he brings methods from culural studies to his teaching and research on the modern and contemporary Black Atlantic world. In 2016 he published Travel & See: Black Diaspora Art Practices since the 1980s (Duke University Press, 2017), an essay collection examining artists such as John Akomfrah, Renée Green, Isaac Julien, and Kerry James Marshall, among others. More recently he edited and introduced Stuart Hall’s hitherto unpublished W.E.B Du Bois lectures of 1994, brought out by Harvard University Press in 2017 as The Fateful Triangle: Race, Ethnicity, Nation. Mercer is an inaugural recipient of the Clark Prize for Excellence in Arts Writing, awarded by the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute in 2006 and in addition to historical studies on Romare Bearden and James Van Der Zee he is the editor of the Annotating Art’s Histories series whose titles include Cosmopolitan Modernisms (2005), Discrepant Abstraction (2006), Pop Art and Vernacular Cultures (2007) and Exiles, Diasporas & Strangers (2008). Highlights among exhibition catalogues over the last few years include Wilfredo Lam at the Pompidou Center, 2015; Mappa Mundi: Frank Bowling’s Map Paintings at Haus der Kunst, Munich, in 2017, and Adrian Piper’s retrospective at MoMA, New York in 2018.

Previous Brant Foundation lectures at Bard College were given by art historian Carrie Lambert-Beatty (2017), artist AA Bronson (2018), and art historian and author Dr. Kellie Jones (2019).

About The Brant Foundation:

The Brant Foundation has a mission to promote education and appreciation of contemporary art and design, by making works available to institutions and individuals for scholarly study and examination.

The Brant Foundation’s loan program, established in 1996, plays a crucial role in our mission to promote education and appreciation of contemporary art. The Foundation’s lending program increases public accessibility to the collection’s paramount pieces – broadening visibility to contemporary works critical to the history of art and its scholarship. Each year, the Foundation lends artwork to exhibiting venues worldwide, proudly supporting artists and art institutions around the globe.

Additionally, The Brant Foundation offers a multitude of ongoing programs and events aimed to enhance and enrich the public’s experience with contemporary art. These programs are designed to facilitate art education, foster creative and scholarly development, and provide unique opportunities for anyone with an interest in contemporary art.

THIRD DIMENSION Works from The Brant Foundation November 2019 – Spring 2020 421 East 6th Street, New York, NY 10009 | 212-777-2297

The Brant Foundation Art Study Center Temporarily closed for construction until May 2020 941 North Street, Greenwich, CT 06831 | 203-869-0611

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