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Differing, Drawn: A Conversation with Lynne Cooke and Darby English

Darby English, Carl Darling Buck Professor of Art History and the College, The University of Chicago, and consulting curator, department of painting and sculpture, Museum of Modern Art, New York; and Lynne Cooke, senior curator, special projects in modern art, National Gallery of Art. In his book 1971: A Year in the Life of Color, Darby English looks at the desire of many black artists to gain freedom from overt racial representation in their art. In some cases, those efforts took the form of public exhibitions. English analyzes two exhibitions that took place in 1971: Contemporary Black Artists in America at the Whitney Museum of American Art, which highlighted abstraction as a stance against normative approaches; and The DeLuxe Show, a racially integrated abstract art exhibition that positioned abstraction in a center of urban blight in Houston, Texas. With their supporters, black modernists—including Alvin Loving, whose work is represented in the exhibition Outliers and American Vanguard Art at the National Gallery of Art—rose above the demand to represent or be represented. In a conversation with Lynne Cooke on April 22, 2018, English outlines the struggle of the black artist against the surrounding culture’s preoccupation with color and situates his own art historical project among other efforts to deal with race in the writing of art history.