Irma Stern, Young Arab, 1942, Huile sur toile, Collection privée.

06 May 2020

Irma Stern and the Racial Paradox of South African Modern Art

- Audacities of Color
by LaNitra M. Berger
Washington, United states
The School of Modernities

This lecture will discuss what we can call the “racial paradox” of South African modern art through the life and work of German-Jewish South African artist Irma Stern (1894-1966). As one of South Africa’s most accomplished modern artists, Irma Stern was known for her paintings of Black African people as art subjects. She was deeply influenced by traveling and studying in Europe and throughout the African continent, which also shaped her views on race and its role in modern art. This lecture will address how Stern’s interactions with Black South Africans affected her interest in painting them even as she grappled with South Africa’s embrace of white supremacy through apartheid.

Photo © LaNitra M. Berger

LaNitra M. Berger is Senior Director of Fellowships and Affiliate Faculty in the History and and Art History Department at George Mason University. Her research focuses on art and social activism in the African and Jewish diasporas. LaNitra received her MA and PhD in art history from Duke University and a bachelor’s degree in art history and international relations from Stanford University. In 2018, she designed a led a study abroad course called “Monuments, Museums, and Memory in South Africa.” She is the editor of a forthcoming book, Social Justice and International Education: Research, Practice, Perspectives published by NAFSA. Her first monograph, Irma Stern and the Racial Paradox of South African Modern Art: Audacities of Color will be published by Bloomsbury in 2020.

Lecture in english

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