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PRINT March 1984

BOB COLESCOTT AIN’T JUST MISBEHAVIN'

The humor is the bait. It’s the price you pay to get in.1

—Joe Lewis, 1982

ALTHOUGH ROBERT COLESCOTT’S WORK is impelled by one overriding purpose—to interject black people into Western art—an important component of his art is consistent with the satirical approach. If we perceive a marked defensiveness in such a stance, a chip-on-the-shoulder attitude regarding official “culture,” then we can have a handle on Colescott’s work. His esthetic affinities are with Dada, Surrealism, and Pop art; the prediction of the phenomenon that Marcia Tucker isolated as “bad painting” is key. The politics are those of exclusion:

If George Washington crossing the Delaware is Carver, should I cry for the solitary hero and history because it allowed only one or maybe two heroes, but a multitude of buffoons (me included?). Or, on the other hand, how about all the hat-changing, no-boat-rocking soft shoe, no-wave-making

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