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This monographic essay highlights Kerry James Marshall’s signature interest in archival imagery from the 1960s civil rights era, evoking a quest for social justice that haunts contemporary life because it remains unfulfilled. With attention to painterly devices that interrupt the picture plane, and the jet-black coloration of his monumental figurative ensembles, the analysis of Marshall’s self-positioning in relation to Western “history painting” situates him at a critical remove from the absolutes of Greenbergian modernism, since the intermedia nature of his practice cuts across abstraction, figuration, and conceptualism and thus aligns Marshall with collage-based traditions.

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