TUSCON, Ariz.—Prominent African-American painter Robert Colescott died on June 4 at his home in Tuscon at the age of 83, the New York Times reports. Colescott, who had battled Parkinsonian syndrome for many years, is best known for his paintings exaggerating and making fun of racial and sexual stereotypes, most notably his George Washington Carver Crossing the Delaware: Page From an American History Textbook.
Colescott began to mature as an artist in 1949, when he lived in Paris for the year and studied with French cubist Fernand Léger. His career was celebrated when he represented the United States at the Venice Biennale in 1997, becoming the first African-American to do so. Colescott’s relatively early embrace of racial issues in his art paved the path for contemporary African-American artists such as Ellen Gallagher and Kara Walker. His work is in several major institutions, including the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; and the Corcoran Gallery of Art.