Months ago it drove me crazy when Washington Post writer Jacqueline Trescott described Jacob Lawrence a great "African American" artist and now it drives me even crazier when her Washington Post's colleague and that paper's chief art critic writes (in reviewing current shows by American artists Aaron Douglas and Jacob Lawrence in the nation's capital) that:
The surprise isn't that Douglas couldn't overcome all the obstacles there were to making the first fully convincing black art. It's that the young Lawrence, in his "Migration of the Negro," did."Black Art"????? Is there really such a genre? If there is, then haven't Africans been making "Black Art" for milennia?
And yes, I do know that there are commercial art fairs that are focused to attract collectors of art about African American subjects, just like there are art fairs focused on Latin American artists, European artists, Australian artists, Asian, etc. They all create art, and their race and ethnicities are part of the processes and cultural contributions to the end commodity, but in the end, it is art.
But Gopnik really means "African-American art," doesn't he?
It's just American art; it happens to depict African American subjects and history, and its talented creators were African American, but the end result is no more "black art" than Andy Warhol's art is "white art" and Morris Louis' art is "Jewish Art" and so on.
It's just "American Art."
Makes my head hurt.