new-york

Joe Overstreet

Kenkeleba Gallery

Joe Overstreet has been a Modernist painter for 35 years. In the late ’50s and early ’60s he made Color Field paintings which, despite their skill and focus, did not gain wide recognition. At the time, in the white community, it was not regarded as appropriate for African-American artists to practice abstraction, which was seen as the special sign of white civilization and its supposed superiority. This dismissal is ironic, given that a major thread of African-American art has been the continuing practice of abstract painting by artists such as Overstreet, Sam Gilliam, and Frank Bowling, who remained dedicated to the medium long after most white artists had passed on to other things. Even more ironically, Overstreet’s penchant for abstract painting was based in part on his feeling that such work gives no clue as to the ethnicity of its maker, and in Overstreet’s mind art, as a universal

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