Designing a New Tradition: Loïs Mailou Jones and the Aesthetics of Blackness

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Product Details

Penn State University Press
Publish Date
8.3 X 10.2 X 1.1 inches | 2.8 pounds

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About the Author

Rebecca VanDiver is Assistant Professor of African American Art at Vanderbilt University.


"Books about artist Loïs Mailou Jones have been too few, making VanDiver's meticulous study a milestone in art, women's, and African American history."

--Donna Seaman, Booklist

"While VanDiver has plenty to cover about the artist's contributions, her prose leaves room for a nuanced look at Jones's upbringing."

--Eva Recinos, Hyperallergic

"VanDiver's ambitious volume certainly deserves a place among scholarly books about 'New Negro' artists, such as Renée Ater's Remaking Race and History and Theresa A. Leininger-Miller's New Negro Artists in Paris. As these authors did, VanDiver has excavated facts on an artist's life and work, filling in the substantial gaps in the record about her training and exhibition history."

--Jacqueline Francis, author of Making Race: Modernism and "Racial Art" in America

"VanDiver proves that Loïs Mailou Jones was one of the most sophisticated American modernists to look to Africa and the broader African diaspora for artistic inspiration. The author expertly analyzes Jones's extensive body of work, making important use of interviews, Jones's papers, and archives at Howard University, and she presents strong close individual readings of Jones's paintings and collages."

--Phoebe Wolfskill, author of Archibald Motley, Jr. and Racial Reinvention: The Old Negro in New Negro Art

"This monograph not only elevates Jones but is a valuable contribution to the discourse on the visual articulation of Black identity in the twentieth century. Designing a New Tradition should be included in a variety of art history collections, including those with a focus on women artists, Black artists, and the arts histories of Boston and Washington, DC."

--Lynora Williams, ARLIS/NA Reviews

"Erudite, readable, and generously illustrated, this book is a worthy monument to an important figure in the history of art."

--K. P. Buick, Choice

"VanDiver has considerably advanced understanding of Jones's career by contextualizing the artist and her work in light of larger cultural issues and international art movements. [Designing a New Tradition] will be the standard source on Jones for years to come."

--Theresa Leininger-Miller, CAA.Reviews

"By bringing art history and Black study into direct relation, VanDiver demonstrates how interdisciplinary work can spur new knowledge and new ways of seeing the (Black) world. Not only does the author reclaim the monograph as a valid and enduring form of scholarship; she also reframes Loïs Mailou Jones as a practitioner and proponent of a modernism that is uniquely transnational and Pan-African."

--Tiffany E. Barber, Woman's Art Journal