Fast Forward: Painting from the 1980s Audio Guide Playlist
Lowery Sims: We'll start with the grace at the left. She wears only a garter on her left thigh, and red open strap sandals. Curiously she holds a knife pointed dangerously towards her own body.
The central figure is fair complected, with vivid blonde hair. She wear an artist's beret and black Mary Jane shoes. She holds the hammer in her right hand, which is extended upward, in a preparation to make contact with the chisel that is aimed at a square pillar with the head of a man. The head is a self-portrait of Colescott and he designates himself as representing art, as you can see by the word arte.
There is a self-deprecating quality to this depiction, as he paints himself about to be demolished by the central figure. The image has a character of what is known as Vanitas, or a concept that talks about the fleeting quality of life and things. This is a familiar theme in Colescott's work, where he depicts himself succumbing to romantic obsessions.
The third figure is clearly black, and she has a reddish afro crowned by yellow flowers. She wears a red and white patterned bra and sarong skirt, and red shoes and holds an apple in her hand. Evocations of Eve, perhaps in the garden.
I think that what we can see here is how Colescott in his astute familiarity with art history uses themes that are familiar to us that he not only redirects, but recreates to find new narratives around gender and race, and also as he's often said, to interject black people into art history.
Robert Colescott, The Three Graces: Art, Sex and Death, 1981. Acrylic on canvas, Overall: 84 × 72in. (213.4 × 182.9 cm). Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Gift of Raymond J. Learsy 91.59.1 With permission of the Estate of Robert Colescott © 2017 Estate of Robert Colescott / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
- 800 Introduction to Fast Forward: Painting from the 1980s
- 801 Julia Wachtel, Membership, 1984
- 802 Kenny Scharf, When the Worlds Collide, 1984
- 804 Terry Winters, Good Government, 1984
- 805 Elizabeth Murray, Druid, 1979
- 806 Joyce Pensato, Reclining Glove, 1983
- 807 Joyce Pensato, Untitled, 1992
- 808 Andrew Massullo, 1667, 1988
- 809 David Wojnarowicz, Fear of Monkeys/Evolution, 1988
- 810 David Salle, Sextant in Dogtown, 1987
- 811 Robert Colescott, The Three Graces: Art, Sex and Death, 1981
- 811-2 Robert Colescott, The Three Graces: Art, Sex and Death, 1981
- 812 Leon Golub, White Squad I, 1982
- 813 Eric Fischl, A Visit To / A Visit From / The Island, 1983