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

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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, Blood and Meat: Survival For The World
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.

Sigmar Polke, <em>Watchtower</em> series
Sigmar Polke, Watchtower series

Cheap fabric with a garish print becomes an eerie specter of surveillance thanks to some creative chemistry.

William Kentridge, drawing from <em>Tide Table (Soho in Deck Chair)</em>
William Kentridge, drawing from Tide Table (Soho in Deck Chair)

On a beach in a suit, a discordant image, like South Africa, where it was made.

Wendy Red Star, <em>1880 Crow Peace Delegation</em>
Wendy Red Star, 1880 Crow Peace Delegation

Red Star annotated photographs to restore dignity and context to government-issue photographs of Crow chiefs.

Nam June Paik, <em>Electronic Superhighway: Continental U.S., Alaska, Hawaii</em>
Nam June Paik, Electronic Superhighway: Continental U.S., Alaska, Hawaii

The “father of video art” argued that electronic communication, not transportation, unites the modern world.

El Anatsui,  <em>Old Man’s Cloth</em>
El Anatsui, Old Man’s Cloth

Textile or sculpture? El Anatsui purposely disregards the limiting categories imposed by Western art history.

Gerhard Richter, <em>Uncle Rudi</em>
Gerhard Richter, Uncle Rudi

Richter toys with both visual and ethical clarity in this evocative, ambiguous painting of an uncle lost to WWII.

El Anatsui, <em>Untitled</em>
El Anatsui, Untitled

The artist transforms metal from alcohol bottles into textiles that represent libations for ancestors.

Gerhard Richter, <em>Betty</em>
Gerhard Richter, Betty

Hyperreal paintings like “Betty” are just one part of Richter’s practice, which resists stylistic classification.

Gerhard Richter, The Cage Paintings (1-6)
Gerhard Richter, The Cage Paintings (1-6)

John Cage and Richter never met, but there was a kinship between these two artists with diverse practices.

Selected Contributors