University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Link to University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Link to University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
The Arts Collection

Page View

Kamarck, Edward (ed.) / Arts in society: the arts and the black revolution II

Wilson, Ed
Editorial comment: a statement,   pp. 411-[418] PDF (7.8 MB)

Page 412 [and 413]

412      before 1965 has been too documentary and
I don't think that the Negro artist has to
commit his work to the fight for equality
per se - I would prefer if he would
commit himself to seeking humanistic
values and all those universal human values
in world art - great world art -to begin
to seek the universal in the specific
experience - jazz does this perfectly; the
specific Negro experience transcended into
universally understood terms - as does
Picasso's "Quernica" and as does African
traditional sculpture.
Any enlightened artist in a reasonably
enlightened society can be both a success
and a threat. Witness the fear of the Hitler
regime with respect to the German
Expressionists. On the other hand, the
idea of there being successful artists could
connote the presence of a healthy society
or it could simply mean that there are
many people able to support art without
any real knowledge of art. Success often
leads to self-indulgence and when this
becomes a cultural pattern then you have a
cultural vacuum.
The American Negro, whether he is an
artist or not, has to get over his self
consciousness of being black. He has to
forget the put-down of the "Tarzan"
pictures and see the real potential of
African and other black people. Also one's
self-image has to be expanded before one
can accommodate an outside image
intelligently. I feel that the education of the
American artist, whether he is black or
white, should include exposure to African
art, American jazz and the psycho-social
dynamics of the American scene. There is a
strange vitality fermenting under this racial
tension in America and I want to see it
There is an awakening taking place of the
emptiness of middle class values; a growing
rejection of the consumer-spectator role
encouraged by the fat institutions symbolic
of middle class success. This rejection of
middle class values is being enacted by
younger whites and more militant young
Negroes. It is quite probably that a
common course of action might spring from
rejection symbolizing a switch from a
"Figure Study" 1967 by Ed Wilson 1

Go up to Top of Page