Kobena Mercer is Charles P. Stevenson Professor of Art History and Humanities at Bard College where he teaches and researches African American, Caribbean, and Black British art. He has taught at Yale University, New York University, University of California Santa Cruz and Goldsmiths College, University of London, where he earned his PhD. Educated in Ghana and England, he is an inaugural recipient of the Clark Prize for Excellence in Arts Writing, awarded by the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute in 2006.
Mercer’s first book, Welcome to the Jungle: New Positions in Black Cultural Studies (1994) was followed by monographic studies on Romare Bearden, Keith Piper, Isaac Julien, and James VanDerZee. His recent essay collection, Travel & See: Black Diaspora Art Practices since the 1980s (2016), examined artists such as John Akomfrah, Renée Green, and Kerry James Marshall, revealing how black artists contributed to art’s transformation in an age of globalization, as also shown in his survey of contemporary Black Atlantic artists in The Image of the Black in Western Art Vol 5 Part 2 (2014). Mercer edited and introduced Stuart Hall’s The Fateful Triangle: Race, Ethnicity, Nation (2017), and prior to that he conceived and edited the Annotating Art’s Histories series, published by MIT, whose titles are Cosmopolitan Modernisms (2005), Discrepant Abstraction (2006), Pop Art and Vernacular Culture (2007) and Exiles, Diasporas & Strangers (2008). Recent exhibition catalogue contributions include Wifredo Lam at Centre Pompidou, Frank Bowling at Haus der Kunst, Adrian Piper at Museum of Modern Art, New York, Theaster Gates at Tate Liverpool, and Jean-Michel Basquiat at Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. Mercer’s forthcoming book is Alain Locke and the Visual Arts, published by Yale University Press in 2022.