Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Black Visibility and Invisibility

I was at a talk on Black Invisibility in Art, which started with Dabydeen's work and itemised various occasions when critics and curators have wilfully ignored the presence of [often marginal] Black figures when analysing old master paintings - e.g. the right-hand female attendant in Titian's Diana & Actaeon.   
Someone in the seminar then cited the fact that the National Portrait Gallery's Anti-Slavery Trail  for the 2007 anniversary [devised by Caroline Bressey] had been taken down - as an example of brief,  temporary, token  visibility. 
So I should put in a plug for the current display featuring William Cuffay, drawn by Paul Dowling when they were both in Newgate Prison awaiting transportation for Chartist agitation.  As far as I know. it's the only portrait of Cuffay - who settled and died in Tasmania - and was presumably reproduced as a lithograph for sale to sympathizers - i.e. as a political act.  Like most works on paper it won't be on show permanently, but it is permanently visible on the NPG website - search for Cuffay.

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