Large-scale tableaus with drawings from the past decade by the well-regarded New York City-based African-American artist Whitfield Lovell are the subject of a powerful exhibition at the Hudson River Museum. It is the excruciating consciousness of the weight of history that makes these works so memorable, along with the fact that they are really beautiful.
Born in the Bronx in 1959, Mr. Lovell focuses on the lives of black Americans from about the end of the Civil War through World War II. History and memory ooze from his assemblages, which evoke for viewers ideas and feelings linked to the period’s societal and political changes. They are sort of sweet and scary, uplifting and depressing at the same time.Dominating the artist’s assemblages are exquisitely detailed life-size charcoal portraits based on historic photographs of anonymous people whose biographical details are now lost to time. Mr. Lovell imagines a new life and a world from scratch, posing them in domestic interiors or homemade settings using furniture picked up in flea markets, tag sales and salvage yards.
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