Renée Green Featured in 30 Americans at Barnes Foundation

Renée Green, Between and Including, Set A (Akerman to Bogeyman), 1998. Black-and-white framed photographs, framed texts and painted wall. 14 panels, dimensions variable; 10 panels, 6 1/2 x 8 7/8 in. each; 4 panels, 8 7/8 x 6 1/2 in. (22.5 x 16.5 cm) each. Rubell Family Collection, Miami

Drawn from the acclaimed Rubell Family Collection, this 10th anniversary presentation of 30 Americans at the Barnes Foundation exhibits works by 30 important and influential contemporary African American artists, including ACT’s own Renée Green. From the canonical to the cutting-edge, these artists explore identity against a backdrop of pervasive stereotyping—of race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, and class—addressing intersectional politics in unique and powerful ways.

An excerpt from the Arkansas Arts Center, which hosted this exhibition in 2015, says:

Renée Green’s transfixing installations epitomize the Information Age because they are often built upon archival material, regardless of her chosen medium – film, text, photography, prints, sculpture, music, textiles, fabrics, and new media. Her prismatic art explores themes surrounding cultural and personal history and memory.

The Rubell Family Collection is an internationally renowned collection of contemporary art that was established by Don and Mera Rubell in 1964. Jason and Jennifer Rubell now assist their parents in building the collection with works that range in date from the 1960s to the present. The Rubell family describes the collection and the impetus for this exhibition as follows:

Since we started collecting in the 1960s, we have always collected African American artists as a part of our broader mission to collect the most interesting art of our time. Approximately three years ago, we found there was a critical mass of emerging African American artists, and began the process of understanding what seemed to be a new movement. When we asked these artists about their influences, we heard some of the same names over and over: Robert Colescott, Renée Green, David Hammons, Barkley Hendricks, Kerry James Marshall, Gary Simmons, Lorna Simpson, Kara Walker, and Carrie Mae Weems.

30 Americans has been, without question, this century’s most impactful exhibition of work by contemporary artists of African descent,” says Gwendolyn DuBois Shaw. “More than simply an exhibition, it is a cultural phenomenon that has helped catapult the nascent careers of a number of the included artists, while also influencing and encouraging other artists and collectors across the country to pursue their individual visions.”

In the exhibition catalogue, the Rubell family explain the selection of the title 30 Americans, rather than, for example, 30 African Americans: “Nationality is a statement of fact, while racial identity is a question each artist answers in his or her own way, or not at all.” The number 30 was specified to acknowledge that the show represents just a selection of the talented artists who could be in it.

See the Barnes Foundation’s full press release for more information.

An interview with curator Gwendolyn DuBois Shaw:


30 Americans is on view at the Barnes Foundation from October 27, 2019, through January 12, 2020.