<em>Colonialism and Abstract Art</em> (2019) <!-- (recto) --><br />

colour screenprint on canvas<br />
182.8 x137.2 cm<br />
ed. 1/3<br />
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne<br />
Purchased NGV Foundation<br />
<br />
© Hank Willis Thomas. All rights reserved

Hank Willis Thomas

Photo: Jeff Vespa

Hank Willis Thomas
United States born 1976

Level 2
NGV International
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Conceptual artist Hank Willis Thomas has reimagined the well-known 1936 art history graphic Cubism and Abstract Art, which was originally designed by the founding director of the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), Alfred H. Barr, Jr. Thomas expands and edits the diagram to include the socioeconomic, cultural and political circumstances that inform some of the most iconic works in MoMA’s collection, from Pablo Picasso’s Les demoiselles d’Avignon, 1907, to Henri Rousseau’s The dream, 1910. Thomas intertwines art and history between 1870 and 1970, beginning with the European exploration and colonisation of the Congo and concluding with the decade of its independence a century later. In the diagram red text is related to Africa, green text denotes cultural movements, and blue arrows suggest connections across categories.

Hank Willis Thomas lives and works in Brooklyn, New York, as a conceptual artist working primarily with themes related to perspective, identity, commodity, media and popular culture. His work has been exhibited throughout the US and abroad including the International Center of Photography, New York; Guggenheim Museum Bilbao; Musée du quai Branly, Paris; and the Hong Kong Arts Centre. His collaborative projects include Question bridge: Black males, 2012; In search of the truth, 2011–; The writing on the wall, 2019; The Gun Violence Memorial Project, 2021–23; and For Freedoms, an artist-led organisation that models and increases creative civic engagement, discourse and direct action.

Purchased, NGV Foundation, 2021