Beginner's guide

videos + essays

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Jamie Wyeth, Kalounna in Frogtown
Jamie Wyeth, Kalounna in Frogtown

The Wyeths have a long history of painting the American story.

Turning Uncle Tom’s Cabin upside down, Alison Saar’s Topsy
Turning Uncle Tom’s Cabin upside down, Alison Saar’s Topsy

Jason and the Golden Fleece and the American anti-Slavery novel, Uncle Tom's Cabin combine to upend our own contemporary myths

Carrie Mae Weems, <em>Untitled (Woman Feeding Bird)</em>, from <em>The Kitchen Table Series</em>
Carrie Mae Weems, Untitled (Woman Feeding Bird), from The Kitchen Table Series

Weems sets her series around the kitchen table, a metaphor for the intimate spaces of home.

Marina Abramović, <em>The Artist is Present</em>
Marina Abramović, The Artist is Present

Is staring into the eyes of one of the world’s most renowned performance artists scary? Transcendent? Boring?

Lucian Freud, <em>Standing by the Rags</em>
Lucian Freud, Standing by the Rags

Freud’s nude isn’t the idealized, horizontal beauty of previous centuries, but a forthright, vertical one.

Yinka Shonibare, <em>The Swing (After Fragonard)</em>
Yinka Shonibare, The Swing (After Fragonard)

What might Shonibare wish to communicate by bringing together these “African” textiles with Fragonard’s Rococo images?

Marlene Dumas, <em>Models</em>
Marlene Dumas, Models

Dumas paints from photographs, and deliberately makes her pictures strange, unsettling, and ugly.

Wangechi Mutu, <em>Preying Mantra</em>
Wangechi Mutu, Preying Mantra

Mutu uses collage as a medium for exploring being African and female.

Shirin Neshat, <em>Rebellious Silence, Women of Allah</em> series
Shirin Neshat, Rebellious Silence, Women of Allah series

Neshat’s series examines the complexities of women’s identities in the Middle East’s changing cultural landscape.

Rineke Dijkstra, <em>Odessa, Ukraine, August 4, 1993</em>
Rineke Dijkstra, Odessa, Ukraine, August 4, 1993

Dijkstra asks her subjects to pose themselves—and they often inadvertently reflect historic works of art.

Kiki Smith, <em>Lying with the Wolf</em>
Kiki Smith, Lying with the Wolf

Smith imbues a normally-violent story with tenderness in the embrace between a woman and a wolf.

Pepón Osorio, <em>En la barberia no se llora (No Crying Allowed in the Barbershop)</em>
Pepón Osorio, En la barberia no se llora (No Crying Allowed in the Barbershop)

Osorio’s art explores the experience of being Latin American in New York City.

Selected Contributors