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Title: 'Emperors of masculinity' : representing African American men in black visual art
Author: Cobby, Rebecca
ISNI:       0000 0004 2718 1956
Awarding Body: University of Nottingham
Current Institution: University of Nottingham
Date of Award: 2012
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This thesis examines the ways in which black visual artists Roy DeCarava, Gordon Parks, Jean-Michel Basquiat and David Hammons visually represent African American men. By looking at their various representations of workers, enslaved men, sportsmen, musicians and politicians in relation to a legacy of negative and positive stereotypes of black masculinity in the United States, I argue that these artists resist limited, polarised notions of African American male identity in order to create new visions that are defined by complexity, ambiguity and creativity. Spanning a time period from the early 1950S to the mid-rocos this thesis is set against the background of a society in which black men are often split into groups of the famous and the anonymous, the celebrated and the demonised, and where the "ordinary everyday realities" of African American men are largely negated. I show how each of the artists discussed here negotiate splits in conceptions of African American male identity as they expose the tensions and contradictions faced by all black men who live their lives under the scrutiny of the public eye. By focusing particularly on the ways in which these artists deal with the complicated and often contradictory issues of visibility and invisibility in relation to African American male identities, I show how their work "re-envisions vision," challenging the ways black men are viewed in U.S. society and suggesting alternatives based in the importance of individualised black male subjectivities. Furthermore, this thesis shows how the relationship between these artists and the institutions within which they work sheds light on their interpretations of what it means and feels to be a black man living a life in public.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available