Fast Forward: Painting from the 1980s

Solo en Inglès


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


Lowery Sims: This is Lowery Sims. I am Designated Curator Emerita from The Museum of Arts and Design, but I've worked at the Metropolitan Museum and the Studio Museum in Harlem, and I've spent a lot of time looking at Robert Colescott, so I'm happy to be your guide into deciphering this very complex painting.

The Three Graces: Art, Sex and Death draw on themes that come from art and mythology from antiquity, and then in the classical revival during the Renaissance. The three figures traditionally represent characters of charm, beauty, and creativity. But Colescott transforms these concepts with modern nuances, with references to vernacular pop and media. Adding, I think almost a punk nuance, characterizing them now as art, sex, and death. Sounds like the Sex Pistols or something. 

Narrator: If you’d like to hear Lowery Sims discuss the trio in detail, please tap to continue.