New Publication – Art in the Caribbean: An Introduction

Anne Walmsley and Stanley Greaves
New Beacon Books, London, 2010

The Caribbean’s defining characteristic of fragmentation – geographical and historical – continues to obstruct cultural understanding and exchanges within the region.  A forum such as the Caribbean Artists Movement was possible amongst writers and artists only while resident in Britain.  Caribbean literature travels more easily than art, if dependent on translation.  With no such language barriers Caribbean art, in reproduction at least, is potentially accessible region-wide. The internet ‘revolution’, especially, now enables wide access to reproduction of artworks and information about art and artists.  Yet opportunities for a broad sense of the region’s art inheritance and details of contemporary practice are minimal. Our book aims to provide such opportunities, for students and for all with an interest in the region’s art.

ART IN THE CARIBBEAN: AN INTRODUCTION is centred on a virtual Gallery, a selection of forty artworks made in the region since the 1940s, reproduced full-page with accompanying text. Here, for example, are works which reflect both the deep-rooted cultural traditions of Haiti’s black majority (a painting based on vodoun practices, an oil-drum cut-out sculpture of a carnival figure) and another in which its contemporary artists’ embrace of international media is evident (an installation of television monitors showing street scenes and newspaper reports). Here, too, is a painting which reflects the Afro-Cuban cultural inheritance of Wifredo Lam, foremost Caribbean artist, made in Cuba after his enforced return home during WW2; a poster from the early days of the Cuban Revolution; an installation of small, flimsy boats from the 1990s.  A sculptural work from Suriname incorporates Maroon art traditions of the Ndjuka;  an installation from Martinique suggests the island’s continuing colonial, sugar-based status.  Works from Anglophone countries – the majority, given the book’s main Caribbean readership – span cultures of the Maya and Garifuna (Black Carib) of Belize and the East Indians and Lokono (Arawak) Amerindians of Guyana, by way of portrait sculpture in Barbados, the festival arts of Carnival in Trinidad and Tobago, and much more.

Artworks in the Gallery are further contextualised in the book’s other main section, Historical Background.  This serves as an outline of art-making in all parts of the Caribbean region, in all periods:  Pre-Columbian, Colonial and Early Independence,  divided into areas colonized by the Spanish, French, British and Dutch; Modern and Contemporary, divided by country or group of countries.  This part, too, is fully illustrated, with smaller images. A Time Line sets out the main historical events and art developments, again by period and area. A Glossary of Art Terms, a Select Bibliography and a listing of Illustrations complete the book.
The Authors
Anne Walmsley is a British-born researcher and writer, specializing in Caribbean arts, with experience of secondary school teaching and educational publishing in the region.

Stanley Greaves is a Guyanese-born artist and art teacher whose art educational posts have ranged from secondary school to art college and university, in Guyana and Barbados.

Book specifications
Publication 15 October 2010
192 pp, 21 x 21 cm, colour images throughout
ISBN 9781873201220
price £20.00

Individual and trade orders to:
New Beacon Books
76 Stroud Green Road, London N4 3EN, UK
Tel. +44 (0) 20 7272 4889 Fax. +44 (0) 20 7281 4662


3 responses to “New Publication – Art in the Caribbean: An Introduction

  1. A book of photographs by Pogus Caesar celebrating Britain’s iconic black musicians is to be published next month.

    The book features evocative, nostalgic and largely unpublished images of musical legends like Stevie Wonder, Grace Jones and Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry.

    Most of Caesar’s photography is based around his home city of Birmingham, documenting a spectrum of well-known personalities and recording significant events including the Handsworth riots, Birmingham tornado and the regeneration of the Bullring.

    “These images record a unique period in what would come to be called black British life,” remarks author and historian Paul Gilroy.

    “Pogus Caesar’s emphatically analog art is rough and full of insight. He conveys the transition between generations, mentalities and economies.”

    Legendary reggae artists figures prominently, and appropriately, in the Caesar image canon – Burning Spear, The Wailers, Augustus Pablo, Rita Marley, Mighty Diamonds, Black Uhuru, Sly Dunbar, Steel Pulse etc. The photographer cites reggae itself is a significant influence, reflecting his own St Kitts background in the Eastern Caribbean.

    Paperback: 190 pages
    Publisher: Punch OOM Gallery Archive; 1st edition (15 Oct 2010)
    Language English
    ISBN-10: 0956674100
    ISBN-13: 978-0956674104
    Product Dimensions: 29.4 x 20.8 x 2 cm

  2. I’ve been searching in google for some new ideas and accidentally found your web site. What a cool blog! I admire how determined each of the entries are. They are well balanced, both informative and entertaining, and the pictures are cool too.

  3. Pingback: Interesting Reads – Caribbean Art for beginners? « Srananart's Blog

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