Histories, real and imagined

Contemporary artists depict the realities and possibilities of the past, often as a commentary on the present.

1980 - present

videos + essays

We're adding new content all the time!

Julie Mehretu, <i>HOWL, eon (I, II)</i>
Julie Mehretu, HOWL, eon (I, II)

Julie Mehretu rethinks American landscape painting by merging its sublime imagery with the harsh realities not depicted

Courtney Leonard, <em>ARTIFICE Ellipse</em>, 2016
Courtney Leonard, ARTIFICE Ellipse, 2016

A commentary on an endangered way of life.

Hock E Aye Vi Edgar Heap of Birds, <em>Native Hosts (Arkansas)</em>
Hock E Aye Vi Edgar Heap of Birds, Native Hosts (Arkansas)

Signs to guide historical understanding

Maya Lin’s Silver Upper White River
Maya Lin’s Silver Upper White River

The river's brilliant reflections gave shape to this enormous sculpture of silver

Sebastião Salgado’s Kuwait
Sebastião Salgado’s Kuwait

Finding heroism amidst one of the earth's most destructive environmental disasters

Superman, World War II, and Japanese-American experience
Superman, World War II, and Japanese-American experience

Superman makes an appearance in what looks (at first sight) like a Japanese print.

What’s in a map? Jaune Quick-To-See Smith’s <em>State Names</em>
What’s in a map? Jaune Quick-To-See Smith’s State Names

Thinking about our history in a different way helps us rethink our present. 

History and deception: Kenseth Armstead’s <em>Surrender Yorktown 1781</em>
History and deception: Kenseth Armstead’s Surrender Yorktown 1781

How can we begin to correct the lies of history? Artist Kenseth Armstead suggests a poetic solution.

The National Memorial for Peace and Justice
The National Memorial for Peace and Justice

The first monument to commemorate the over 4,000 African Americans who were lynched in the early 20th century.

Thornton Dial, <em>Blood and Meat: Survival For The World</em>
Thornton Dial, Blood and Meat: Survival For The World

An unflinching memorial to civil rights martyrs by the contemporary artist Thorton Dial

Titus Kaphar, <em>The Cost of Removal</em>
Titus Kaphar, The Cost of Removal

Kaphar takes a violent history and renders it visible in this modified portrait of Andrew Jackson.

Selected Contributors