John and Dominique de Menil were vocal champions of human rights worldwide, focusing their actions on civil rights in particular. In 1960 they launched the ambitious scholarly research project The Image of the Black in Western Art, directed by art historian Ladislas Bugner. Spanning nearly 5,000 years and documenting virtually all forms of media, the unprecedented research project was devoted to the systematic investigation of how people of African descent have been perceived and represented in art. For the first thirty years of its existence, the project focused on the production of a prize-winning, four-volume series of generously illustrated books, The Image of the Black in Western Art. Now, fifty years later, Dominique de Menil's mission has been re-invigorated through the collaboration of Harvard University Press and the W. E. B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research to present new editions of the coveted five original books, as well as an additional five volumes.
This monumental publication offers expert commentary and a lavishly illustrated history of the representations of people of African descent ranging from the ancient images of Pharaohs created by unknown hands to the works of the great European masters such as Bosch, Rembrandt, Rubens, and Hogarth to stunning new creations by contemporary black artists. Including thousands of beautiful, moving, and often little-known images of black people, including queens and slaves, saints and soldiers, children and gods, The Image of the Black in Western Art provides a treasury of masterpieces from four millennia—a testament to the black experience in the West and a tribute to art’s enduring power to shape our common humanity.
416 pages, 345 color illustrations, 50 halftones, 5 maps | 9.75 x 11 inches
The Image of the Black in Western Art
David Bindman, coeditor of The Image of the Black in Western Art series along with Henry Louis Gates Jr., participates in a panel discussion for the Washington launch of this landmark publication. Recorded on December 12, 2010, at the National Gallery of Art, Professor Bindman and editor Sharmila Sen discuss the complex history and ambitions behind the series. When the expanded and revised series is completed by 2015, there will be 10 books in all, including two new volumes on the 20th century. The panelists examine works made by or depicting people of African descent in the series and in the Gallery’s collection.