Robert Farris Thompson

Mambo dancers, Palladium Ballroom, New York, December 1, 1954. Photo: Yale Joel/Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images.

Robert Farris Thompson is one of the founding scholars of contemporary Afro-Atlantic and African studies. His landmark writings on topics such as Afro-Cuban dance and Yoruba sculpture posed a newly systematic understanding of cultural forms and meanings not merely as points on a historical continuum but as dynamics of transmission, movement, and change. These groundbreaking texts, composed between the 1950s and the present, were gathered for the first time in his 2011 volume Aesthetic of the Cool. Here, Thompson is joined by Kellie Jones, whose own collected writings, EyeMinded: Living and Writing Contemporary Art, were published the same year, and who recently curated the seminal exhibition “Now Dig This!: Art and Black Los Angeles 1960–1980,” currently on view at MoMA PS 1 in New York. Together they engage in a striking dialogue about their lifelong study of art, language, and

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