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9 February 2017

Rising Above - African American History and Culture Lecture Series:
Quantum Aesthetics: The Color of Light in Beauford Delaney’s “Untitled”

Professor Russ Russ Castronovo
University of Wisconsin-Madison

Date: February 9 (Thu), 2017
Time: 6:30 pm
Location: Fung Ping Shan Building, University Museum and Art Gallery, HKU

click to see poster

Delaney’s painting offers a provocation about abstraction, art, and minority racial and sexual identities in transnational contexts. His work resounds with the history of African American art and aesthetics. With its play of light across surfaces of brown and white, Delaney’s work forces us to examine our assumptions about the place of “color” as a historical structure within abstraction. By using the cues provided by Delaney's use of tone and texture, flatness and depth, and illumination and obscurity, we can see how this artist used light to begin painting, as he put in his own words, “with greater freedom.”

Russ Castronovo is the Dorothy Draheim Professor of American Studies and the Tom Paine Professor of American Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He is author of four books, Beautiful Democracy: Aesthetics and the Anarchy of Global Culture; Necro-Citizenship: Death, Eroticism and the U.S. Public Sphere in the Nineteenth-Century United States; Fathering the Nation: American Genealogies of Slavery and Freedom; and most recently, Propaganda 1776: Secrets, Leaks, and Revolutionary Communications in Early America, published by Oxford University Press. He has also edited several collections, including The Oxford Handbook to Nineteenth-Century American Literature and States of Emergency: The Object of American Studies (co-edited with Susan Gillman). His essays have appeared in such journals as Critical Inquiry, PMLA, boundary 2, New Literary History, and American Literary History. In all, his published work spans research in 18th-, 19th, and 20th-century literature and American cultural history on topics such as aesthetics, citizenship, and memory. He is the 2016 winner of the Chancellor’s Distinguished Teaching Award at UW-Madison.

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