Jean-Michel Basquiat, Nick Cave, Rashid Johnson, Lorna Simpson, Kara Walker, Kehinde Wiley and 24 other provocative African American artists are featured in the traveling exhibition 30 Americans. The show was organized by the noted Rubell Family Collection, which shows only art that it owns. They do this annually: the idea for the shows comes first and then the Rubell family “collects into it,” buying works it considers essential for its chosen theme. 30 Americans (for which they purchased 70 objects) has been traveling for the past three years. Current and last stop: Frist Center for Visual Arts in Nashville, October 11, 2013-January 12, 2013.
Don and Mera Rubell, founders of the family collection, described the origins and development of the exhibition: “As the show evolved, we decided to call it 30 Americans. ‘Americans,’ rather than ‘African Americans’ or ‘Black Americans,’ because 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.”
Mickalene Thomas. Baby I Am Ready Now, 2007. Acrylic, rhinestone and enamel on wooden panel, diptych, 72 x 132 in. overall. Rubell Family Collection, Miami. Courtesy of Lehmann Maupin, New York. © Mickalene Thomas