Robert Colescott’s Painterly Courage

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Raphael Rubinstein encourages a re-evaluation of the work of painter Robert Colescott.

Rubinstein describes Colescott as "a painter of incredible courage. He seems to leap into every painting as if it will be his last, determined to leave no inch of the canvas unactivated, no social taboo unchallenged, no occasion for painterly bravura unseized. His compositions pulse and throb with tightly packed figures and areas of impacted opulent color as if the canvas, no matter how large, isn’t big enough to contain his pictorial energy, or his urgent need to tackle head-on huge subjects. Colescott’s wager was doubly or maybe even triply daring: Was it possible to make great paintings from the crassest racial stereotypes in the American psyche? Was it possible to be a broad social satirist and a color-mad celebrant of painterly excess at the same time? Was it possible to reconcile the high-art legacy of Europe and the flashy, fleshy, rambunctious, loud energy of American vernacular culture?"

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