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30 Americans

April 10, 2015 - June 21, 2015

Organized by the Rubell Family Collection, Miami

30 Americans presents a sweeping survey of artwork by many of the most important African American artists of the last four decades. Organized by the Rubell Family Collection, Miami, the exhibition features work by such early and influential artists as Barkley L. Hendricks, Robert Colescott and Jean-Michel Basquiat, and those of younger and emerging artists, like Kehinde Wiley, Wangechi Mutu, and Shinique Smith. Often provocative and challenging, 30 Americans explores what it means to be a contemporary artist and an African American today. Whether addressing issues of race, gender, sexuality, politics, or history—or the seeming lack thereof—the works in the exhibition offer powerful interpretations of cultural identity and artistic legacy.

Drawn from the collection of Mera and Don Rubell, 30 Americans contains forty-one works in a variety of media—paintings, drawings, sculptures, installations, digital videos, and photographs—by thirty of the leading contemporary African American artists. The Rubells began acquiring contemporary art in the late 1960s, often forging close friendships with living artists, particularly young artists. The couple collected both backwards and forward, out of which emerged a pattern of intergenerational influence. Consequently, the works that comprise the exhibition afford viewers the opportunity to observe a stylistic dialogue among artists working throughout the past four decades. Now in collaboration with their two grown children, the Rubells continue to assemble one of the largest private collections of contemporary art in the world, which they currently house in a 45,000 square foot former DEA warehouse-turned-museum in Miami, Florida.

The Arkansas Arts Center has a lengthy history of collecting and exhibiting African American art, including such recent exhibitions as: Documenting a Not So Distant Past (2007), featuring civil rights-era photographs by Will Counts, Ernest Withers and Marion Palfi; Drawings from Life: Aj Smith (2006), containing exquisite silverpoint drawings by the UALR art professor; Kickin' It with Joyce J. Scott (2005), featuring beadwork by Scott; Whispers from the Walls: The Art of Whitfield Lovell (2005); and Revelation and Reflections of American Self-Taught Artists (2002).

30 Americans is the first comprehensive survey of contemporary African American ever presented by the Arkansas Arts Center. Previous institutions that have hosted variations of the exhibition include: the North Carolina Museum of Art, Raleigh, North Carolina (March 19, 2011 – September 4, 2011); the Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. (October 1, 2011 – February 12, 2012); the Chrysler Museum of Art, Norfolk, Virginia (March 16, 2012 – July 15, 2012); the Milwaukee Art Museum, Milwaukee, Wisconsin (June 14, 2013 – September 8, 2013); Frist Center for the Visual Arts, Nashville, Tennessee (October 11, 2013 – January 12, 2014); and the Contemporary Arts Center, New Orleans, Louisiana (February 8, 2014 – June 15, 2014).

Featured Works from the Exhibition










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Fine Arts Club of Arkansas

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Munro Foundation

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