Robert Colescott, born in California in 1925, was recognized for his parodies related to modernism and avant-garde paintings, as well as the incorporation of iconic themes in the American black culture.
With a wide cultural formation, the work of Colescott was enriched by its early influence and encounter with the artist Fernand Léger. During those years of his youth, Colescott made numerous journeys in which he interacted with different cultures and increase his
interest in Naïve art.
Most of the art critics agree that it was not until 1970 that Colescott’s work gave a radical change to what would be his most well-known subject of attention: the African American social issues and culture. This matter of attention was unleashed from his visit to Africa in the 1960s, in where he became aware of his cultural heritage. These works incorporated images from popular art and ironic homage’s to historic masterpieces.
Throughout the 80′s and 90′s, Colescott’s paintings continued to be full of satire, presenting the social ills of race, sex, and western culture in humorous, yet thought provoking ways. Over the last decade, Colescott’s works have become increasingly abstract; allowing the viewer to focus on the movement of the paint itself, while analyzing the work for its enigmatic narratives.
Colescott was the Emeritus Professor at the University of Arizona, Tucson and received numerous awards including grants from the National Endowment of the Arts in 1976, 1980, and 1983 and the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation for Creative Painting and Drawing in 1985. He was the only artist to represent the United States in a single artist exhibition at the Venice Biennale in 1997.
Colescott lived and worked in Tucson, Arizona for the past three decades until his untimely death in 2009. The Museum of Contemporary Art in Tucson then named him “Local Genius” of the year.
His work is featured in collections at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Studio Museum in Harlem, New York; Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; Young Memorial Museum, San Francisco, California; Hirshhorn Museum, Washington, D.C.; Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego and La Jolla, California; Wadsworth Atheneum, Hartford, Connecticut; Contemporary Museum of Art, Honolulu, Hawaii; Tucson Museum of Art, Tucson, Arizona; Boston Museum of Fine Art, Boston, Massachusetts.