"The Black Athletic Body in Contemporary Art"
In the American context, sport has always been more than a demonstration of athleticism or skill. Many art historians have studied the links between athletics and aesthetics, looking specifically at how discourses of masculinity converged with artistic expression in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Yet, in most cases, any analysis of masculine identity inspired by these works remains largely white, middle-class, and heterosexual. This lecture shifts the discourse around sports and fine arts to ask how and to what ends issues of race, gender, and sexuality intersect in images of black athletes. Looking closely at the work of several artists from the nineteenth century photographs to the near present,I will demonstrate how the black athlete—particularly for black, male, queer artists—complicates our readings of these bodies. I will show how black contemporary artists specifically exploit the malleability of the image of masculinity to force a consideration of the dynamic nature of blackness itself.