Art: Two Centuries of Stereotypes

A show at the Corcoran examines the portrayal of blacks in America

Obviously, the meanings of art are not confined to masterpieces. A piece of kitsch can tell us as much about its time as a Mondrian, which does not mean that it ceases to be kitsch. Mediocre or rotten art carries all sorts of social data -- messages that may have been overt or subliminal, but in either case work their way out (with a final tweak from their interpreters) over the years.

So it is with most of the art in "Facing History: The Black Image in American Art 1710-1940," the new exhibition at the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington...

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