PRINT Summer 2000




To the Editor:

Although I am quite flattered by Thad Ziolkowski’s depiction of me as “a bull in the racial china shop” [Reviews, April 2000], he was apparently too busy hallucinating and making up lies about the content of my work to catch the subtlety and irony clearly present.

Tale of the Tragic Mulatto was obviously intended as a satire along the lines of an Evelyn Waugh or Graham Greene novel. The painting as well as the phrase “tragic mulatto” were intended as self-effacing dark humor. This handle has been used in jest since the ’70s. No half-breed in his or her right mind would use the expression in earnest. This idea of tinting a serious subject simultaneously with sadness and humor is also used in the Harriet Hemings piece, and what Ziolkowski fails to notice because he’s ranting on about his pedantic perception of the work is that the painting is in the shape of a

to keep reading

Artforum print subscribers have full access to this article. If you are a subscriber, sign in below.

Not registered for Register here.

SUBSCRIBE NOW at the discounted rate of $45 a year—70% off the newsstand price—and receive the print magazine plus full online access to this issue and our archive.*

Order the PRINT EDITION of the Summer 2000 issue for $17 or the ONLINE EDITION for $5.99.

* This rate applies to U.S. domestic subscriptions.