“…then you know you have gone too far.”

“You should keep on painting no matter how difficult it is, because this is all part of experience, and the more experience you have, the better it is… unless it kills you, and then you know you have gone too far.” 
Alice Neel (January 28, 1900 – October 13, 1984) 




Jean-Jacques Rousseau (June 28, 1712 – July 2, 1778)

Portrait by Maurice Quentin de La Tour (public domain)

“I prefer liberty with danger than peace with slavery.”

“The world of reality has its limits; the world of imagination is boundless.”

“I may not be better than other people, but at least I am different.”

Philosopher, writer, and composer.
His political philosophy influenced the progress of the Enlightenment throughout Europe, as well as aspects of the French Revolution and the development of modern political, economic and educational thought. 

Jordan Casteel, born in Denver in 1989

photo of Jordan Casteel and her painting, Charles (2016)
courtesy of the Denver Art Museum where she had her first one-person museum show in 2019

“The intent of the paintings is to expose my vision of black men as a sister, daughter, friend and lover. That perspective is one full of empathy and love. I see their humanity and, in turn, I want the audience to engage with them as fathers, sons, brothers, cousins – as individuals with their own unique stories to share.”

“The legacy for me is about walking the walk and not just talking the talk. That I have to take the values I have learned from my mother or my father or my grandparents and put them into real action in my day-to-day existence. Long before I became Jordan Casteel the painter, I was Jordan Casteel who understood the value of everyday stories and people and creating voices for people and room for people who might otherwise feel that there’s no room for them.”
Jordan Casteel: Returning the Gaze, at Denver Art Museum (2019)
interview in Denver.org

Jordan Casteel currently lives in Harlem, NY and teaches at Rutgers University.

The Baayfalls (2018), Jordan Casteel. Courtesy the artist and Casey Kaplan, New York © Jordan Casteel

Cowboy E, Sean Cross, and Og Jabar, 2017. Oil on canvas. 90 x 78 inches (228.6 x 198.12 cm). Casey Kaplan Gallery, New York, NY. © Jordan Casteel. Photograph: Adam Reich. This artwork or photograph is posted in accordance with fair use principles. Exhibition: “Jordan Casteel: Nights in Harlem” September 7 – October 28, 2017 Casey Kaplan Gallery,

Casteel’s work comes from personally-taken photographs of her subjects. Entangling deeper meaning and targets for representation in the subjects and their surrounding. She aims to nudge the viewer’s thought considering what meaning lies behind being a black man in the US today.
 “Jordan Casteel: ‘My perspective is one full of empathy and love'” by Biswas, Allie
 Studio International – Visual Arts, Design and Architecture.

“Casteel’s practice explores humanity, sexuality, identity, and subjectivity. Casteel has almost exclusively painted black subjects, often in varying skin tones based on the light surrounding the sitter from the photographs she takes of her sitters. Subjects have been painted in varying shades of browns, greys, lime greens, navy blues, and light oranges.”

“Casteel typically paints intimate portraits of friends, lovers, and family members as well as neighbors and strangers in Harlem and New York.”

Betye Saar’s “The Liberation of Aunt Jemima”

Betye Saar, “The Liberation of Aunt Jemima”, (assemblage, 11 3/4 x 8 x 2 3/4 in.), 1972

“I’m the kind of person who recycles materials but I also recycle emotions and feelings. And I had a great deal of anger about the segregation and the racism in this country.”
– Betye Saar, born July 30, 1926

The “Black Contributions” invitational, curated by EJ Montgomery at Rainbow Sign in 1972, prompted the creation of an extremely powerful and now famous work. In her article “Influences,” Betye Saar wrote about being invited to create a piece for Rainbow Sign:

“My work started to become politicized after the death of Martin Luther King in 1968. But The Liberation of Aunt Jemima, which I made in 1972, was the first piece that was politically explicit. There was a community centre in Berkeley, on the edge of Black Panther territory in Oakland, called the Rainbow Sign. They issued an open invitation to black artists to be in a show about black heroes, so I decided to make a black heroine. For many years, I had collected derogatory images: postcards, a cigar-box label, an ad for beans, Darkie toothpaste. I found a little Aunt Jemima mammy figure, a caricature of a black slave, like those later used to advertise pancakes. She had a broom in one hand and, on the other side, I gave her a rifle. In front of her, I placed a little postcard, of a mammy with a mulatto child, which is another way black women were exploited during slavery. I used the derogatory image to empower the black woman by making her a revolutionary, like she was rebelling against her past enslavement. When my work was included in the exhibition ‘WACK! Art and the Feminist Revolution’, at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles in 2007, the activist and academic Angela Davis gave a talk in which she said the black women’s movement started with my work The Liberation of Aunt Jemima. That was a real thrill.”

Now in the collection at Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive

Sonia Delaunay (Nov 14, 1885 – Dec 5 1979)

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is sonia_delaunay_wearing_casa_sonia_creations_madrid_c.1920.jpg

“About 1911 I had the idea of making for my son, who had just been born, a blanket composed of bits of fabric like those I had seen in the houses of Russian peasants. When it was finished, the arrangement of the pieces of material seemed to me to evoke cubist conceptions and we then tried to apply the same process to other objects and paintings.”

“For me there is no gap between my painting and my so-called ‘decorative’ work. I never considered the ‘minor arts’ to be artistically frustrating; on the contrary, it was an extension of my art.”

Sonia Delaunay, 1914, Prismes électriques, oil on canvas,Musée National d’Art Moderne, Centre Pompidou, Paris

The last section of La prose du Transsibérien et de la Petite Jehanne de France, 1913

Sonia Delaunay, Rythme, 1938, oil on canvas, 182 x 149 cm, Musée National d’Art Moderne, Paris

Matra M530A painted by Sonia Delaunay

Jean-Michel Basquiat (Dec 22, 1960 — Aug 12, 1988)

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is the27club-basquiat-jean-michel-raw.jpg

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is basquiat-lead.jpg
Hollywood Africans

“The black person is the protagonist in most of my paintings. I realized that I didn’t see many paintings with black people in them.”

“I cross out words so you will see them more; the fact that they are obscured makes you want to read them.”

“Since I was seventeen I thought I might be a star. I’d think about all my heroes, Charlie Parker, Jimi Hendrix… I had a romantic feeling about how these people became famous.”

“I had some money, I made the best paintings ever. I was completely reclusive, worked a lot, took a lot of drugs. I was awful to people.”

“I don’t think it’s good to be honest in interviews, I think it’s better to lie.”
excerpted from:
On his regrets of revealing too much about his adolescence in 
“INTERVIEW Jean Michel Basquiat with Becky Johnston and Tamra Davis” (1986)

“Despite an attempt at sobriety during a trip to Maui, Hawaii of a heroin overdose at his art studio on Great Jones Street in Manhattan’s NoHo neighborhood.”
courtesy of 27 Club