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Collections> Browse > Exotique

Image Rights
Courtesy Walker Art Center
Copyright retained by the artist


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framed 89-1/8 × 77-¼ × 3-3/8 inches
acrylic, gel medium on canvas
Not on view

Object Details

Paintings (Paintings)
Accession Number
In paint on front LL corner of canvas “R. Colescott”; In paint on front LL corner of canvas below signature “94”; in ink on backside on diamond-shaped wood brace at center where top horizontal and center vertical stretcher bars meet “"EXOTIQUE”/©Robert Colescott/May 1994/liquitex w/ gel med.“
Physical Description
Multiple representations of women. One Picasso-like woman, one nude, and one African woman. The African woman is dancing with a mand in a suit. All of the figures have a white dialogue balloon above their head with text inside.
Credit Line
T. B. Walker Acquisition Fund, 1995

object label Robert Colescott, Exotique (1994) Walker Art Center, 1998

“The art of irony that I employ is based on exaggeration, and art in general is based on distortion.”–Robert Colescott

In the mid-1970s, Robert Colescott began a series of paintings in which he appropriated masterworks by such artists as Pablo Picasso, Édouard Manet, and others. These early works ridiculed stereotypical white perceptions of what it means to be black, thus subverting the iconic status of “master” paintings.

In Exotique, Colescott complicates his sharp sense of irony further. As the mustached Frenchman in this painting compliments his dancing partner for being exotic, she corrects “exotic” and changes it to “Afrocentric,” in hip vernacular. Not only are white inventions of the exoticized black body problematized, so too is inventive black participation in the construction of identities of “otherness.” Employing a host of shorthand symbology–West African cloth, comic-strip dialogue balloons, a masked reclining figure à la Picasso–Colescott exposes our intricate, if not explosive, relationship to art historical, filmic, and contemporary popular representation.

Label text for Robert Colescott, Exotique (1994), from the exhibition Selections from the Permanent Collection, Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, December 8, 1996 to April 4, 1999.

Copyright 1998 Walker Art Center