The Urban Scene: Race, Reginald Marsh, and American Art

Hardcover | January 21, 2015

byCarmenita Higginbotham

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In The Urban Scene, Carmenita Higginbotham offers a significant and innovative reassessment of the ways in which race is deployed and read in interwar American art. By focusing on the works of urban realist Reginald Marsh and his contemporaries, Higginbotham explores how black figures acted as substantive cultural and visual markers in American art and embodied complex concerns about the presence of African Americans in urban centers. The book breaks from previous scholarship that insists interwar American art employed racial types primarily to emphasize the inferiority of blacks. Instead, it reframes the interchange between Marsh’s pictorial language and prevailing representations of race in American art and visual culture to explore negotiations over urban space and constructions of national identity in American Scene painting. The Urban Scene is significant for its consideration of the intricate ways in which dominant culture adopts and disseminates black representation and how aesthetic and representational strategies operate within broader social and political tactics to regulate urban blacks.

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From the Publisher

In The Urban Scene, Carmenita Higginbotham offers a significant and innovative reassessment of the ways in which race is deployed and read in interwar American art. By focusing on the works of urban realist Reginald Marsh and his contemporaries, Higginbotham explores how black figures acted as substantive cultural and visual markers in...

Carmenita Higginbotham is Associate Professor of Art History at the University of Virginia.
Format:HardcoverDimensions:224 pages, 10 × 8 × 0.98 inPublished:January 21, 2015Publisher:Penn State University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0271063939

ISBN - 13:9780271063935

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Extra Content

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

Contents

List of Illustrations

Acknowledgments

Introduction

1 The Urban Artist

2 Reading Public Spaces

3 Girl Watching in the City

4 The Art of Slumming

5 Seeing Poverty

Epilogue

Notes

Bibliography

Index

Editorial Reviews

“Carmenita Higginbotham explores how Marsh’s late 1920s and 1930s paintings of mass congestion and congregation—on the subway or the beach, in nightclubs or breadlines—stage the interracial negotiations that were increasingly understood as a key feature of modern urban experience. Vividly contextualizing the works in the visual field of the period, she teases out the meanings of ‘blackness’ they encode, unfolding a variety of power dynamics, libidinal investments, essentializations, and performances on the parts of both the figures in the paintings and their creator. The Urban Scene is a powerful exegesis of the contemporary pleasures, dangers, and potentialities of reading race.”—Alison Syme, University of Toronto