McNay Art Museum announces major acquisitions of African American art

SAN ANTONIO, TX. – Richard Aste, Director of the McNay Art Museum, announced today the acquisition of three major works – all collages — by three African American artists: The Cop, by Benny Andrews; ghost: rhythms: III, by McArthur Binion; and Kwabena, by Rashaad Newsome.

“Art museums are in the business of beauty and truth,” said Aste. “And part of our commitment to truth here, in the first modern art museum in Texas, is celebrating the diverse men and women who define ‘modern’ in the 19th, 20th, and 21st centuries. This purchase by the Museum and the McNay Contemporary Collectors Forum allows the McNay to present a more inclusive and truthful history of modern and contemporary art to our community.”

“The acquistion of these artworks significantly enhances the McNay’s holding of examples by artists of color and assists the Museum in expanding the evolving definition of American art,” adds René Paul Barilleaux, Head of Curatorial Affairs. “These acquisitions especially build on the McNay’s continuing efforts to broaden and deepen the collection of works by African American artists. The three collages by Andrews, Binion, and Newsome here will be featured in Something to Say: The McNay Presents 100 Years of African American Art, opening February 8, 2018.”

Benny Andrews was born in Madison, Georgia in 1930 and died in 2006. He received a BFA in 1958 from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. His work is featured in many prominent collections, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

The Cop is a richly textured, expressively painted portrait of a male figure with large, white-framed glasses and dressed in police attire, with badge and hat that allude to his profession and role in the community; texture evokes the subject’s hard-scrabble life. Labeled a “social realist,” Andrews’ work focused on figurative social commentary depicting the struggles and everyday occurrences within the African American community.

McArthur Binion was born in Macon, Mississippi in 1946. He received a BFA degree from Wayne State University and a MFA degree from Cranbrook Academy of Art: he was the first African American student to graduate from Cranbrook. His earliest memories are of working on the cotton farm on which his family were tenants.

Autobiographical abstraction meets geometrical rigor and painstaking application of oil paint sticks to the surface of ghost: rhythms: III to create a subtly modulated visual field of alternating segments of vertical and horizontal markings. Binion lives and works in Chicago, Illinois. His work was included in the exhibition Viva Arte Viva in the 2017 Venice Biennale, Italy.

Rashaad Newsome was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, in 1979. He received a BA in Art History from Tulane University; a certificate of study in Digital Post Production from Film/Video Arts Inc., New York, NY; and MAX/MSP Programming at Harvestworks Digital Media Center, New York, NY. His work has appeared in exhibitions including the Venice Biennale – Commercial Break, Garage Projects, Venice, Italy (2011), and the Whitney Biennal – FIVE, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY (2010). Newsome’s work is in several major collections, including The Studio Museum in Harlem, New York; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, California; the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY; and the Brooklyn Museum, New York.

Constructed of collaged cut paper, Kwabena presents a glittering humanoid portrait cleverly cobbled from appropriate images of opulence. He plays with layers of condensed jewel-encrusted surfaces, made-up lips, and clippings of rich textiles to create a glamorous feminine bust enclosed by a contrasting black background and ornate, black square frame. Newsome’s KNOT, a single-channel video installation with sound, floats over an entire wall wrapped in his striking Jungle Gardenia vinyl print, currently on display on the McNay’s AT&T Lobby wall.

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