Feb 17th 2022

It’s the satire that kills the serpent, you know…: Robert Colescott and the Art of Racial Irony

@ Chicago Cultural Center


Opening Thursday, February 17th, from 7PM - 8PM

On view through Saturday, December 4th

Virtual Conversation

Thursday, February 17, 7–8:30pm

“It’s the satire that kills the serpent, you know…”: Robert Colescott and the Art of Racial Irony will be a virtual conversation with Richard J. Powell of Duke University, Jefferson Pinder of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and Tina Post of the University of Chicago. ASL interpretation will be provided.

“Known for his imaginative paintings that exposed society’s failures and shortcomings in matters of race and sex, Robert Colescott (1925-2009) broke new ground in contemporary art through his colorful, humorous, and often stinging visual satires. From the vantage points of a performance artist, an art historian, and a scholar of literature, theater, and performance studies, a panel of discussants will reflect on Colescott’s brilliant, provocative art, especially in the context of performativity, artistic subversions of racial stereotypes, and Black cultural “satiracy.””

Register in advance for this webinar:

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.


About the Exhibition:

Advisory: This exhibition contains mature content including nudity — and uses the language of visual and verbal stereotype to critique and expose racism and sexism in American culture.

Art and Race Matters invites a renewed examination of the artist, whose work is still as challenging, provocative and relevant now as it was when he burst onto the art scene over five decades ago. Presenting works from across Colescott’s career, the exhibition traces the progression of his stylistic development and the impact of place on his practice, revealing the diversity and range of his oeuvre: from his adaptations of Bay Area Figuration in the 1950s and 60s, to his signature graphic style of the 1970s, and the dense, painterly figuration of his later work. Art and Race Matters also explores prevalent themes in Colescott’s work, including the complexities of identity, societal standards of beauty, the reality of the American Dream and the role of the artist as arbiter and witness in contemporary life.

Art and Race Matters: The Career of Robert Colescott is co-curated by Lowery Stokes Sims and Matthew Weseley, and organized by Raphaela Platow, the Contemporary Arts Center’s Alice & Harris Weston Director and Chief Curator. Following its debut in Cincinnati, the exhibition traveled to the Portland Art Museum, Sarasota Museum of Art and Chicago Cultural Center.


The Wreckage of the Medusa, 1978, acrylic on canvas, 66 x 84 inches © 2021 The Robert H. Colescott Separate Property Trust / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Private Collection. Photo Credit: Ray Litman

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