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Archibald Motley Jr. and Racial ReinventionThe Old Negro in New Negro Art$
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Phoebe Wolfskill

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780252041143

Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: May 2018

DOI: 10.5622/illinois/9780252041143.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM ILLINOIS SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.illinois.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Illinois University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in ISO for personal use.date: 07 March 2021

“Humor Ill-Advised, If Not Altogether Tasteless?”

“Humor Ill-Advised, If Not Altogether Tasteless?”

Stereotype and the New Negro

(p.105) 4 “Humor Ill-Advised, If Not Altogether Tasteless?”
Archibald Motley Jr. and Racial Reinvention

Phoebe Wolfskill

University of Illinois Press

Chapter 4 examines the ways in which caricature and stereotype informed articulations of African Americans in early twentieth-century art and visual culture. Although many artists embraced stereotypical figuration during this period for immediate readability, the appearance of caricatured figuration in the work of Motley and many of his contemporaries raises questions about the weight of historical representations of blackness within the collective mind. This chapter considers the use of caricature in relation to modernist forms of distortion and exaggeration, the persistence and relative acceptance of racial stereotype in visual culture—particularly as a satirical device—and the various subjectivities that come to play in defining methods of representation as acceptable or harmful. While emphasizing the variety of opinions constituting affirmative portrayals of blackness, a debate that played out in literature as well as art, this chapter explores how representations of black identity continued to rely on stereotype despite the discourse of racial reinvention.

Keywords:   caricature, stereotype, exaggeration, distortion, modernism, race, satire, humor, critique, affirmation

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