A look back at the last fifty years in African American art, Colored Frames is an unflinching exploration of influences, inspirations and experiences of black artists.
Beginning at the height of the Civil Rights Era and leading up to the present, it is a naked and truthful look at often ignored artists and their progeny set against the backdrop of the modern global struggle for freedom and equality.
Catalog Number: MC-1298
Genre: Documentary, Art / Artist, Political / Social
DVD Region: 0
TV System: NTSC
Label: Boondoggle Films
Rating: Not Rated
This program is closed captioned This is a Microcinema Exclusive title.
Program MC-1298 is available for wholesale from Microcinema DVD. Contact info[at]microcinema.com or call at +1-415-447-9750
Program MC-1298 may be licensed for Exhibition.
2012-04-08DVD Verdict By Judge Daryl Loomis
Art history can be a fascinating subject, full of great stories and beautiful achievements. In a general cultural sense, however, the artists who get discussed are European and American artists with white skin. Institutions will often offer a class on the history of black art, but whatever style the artist paints in, be that representational, abstract, or expressionistic, they are lumped together as one big thing, "black art," rather than within the style in which they create and the discussion in which they belong.
In Colored Frames, director Lerone Wilson (No Child Left Behind) presents a cogent history of the last half century of African-American painting, both as a cultural group and in the context of where they belong within the general structure of 20th Century art. Using the words of the artists themselves, he achieves a story that is at once historical and personal, a story with all the same frustrations, sadness, and triumphs that occurred in the history of jazz music or baseball. Rather than the repetition diminishing the power of the story, it makes the universality of their plight even clearer.
Using the artists as talking heads and delivering a slideshow of their work, Wilson shows the widely disparate styles the artists employ alongside their startlingly similar stories of segregation within the gallery. Hearing from Gustave Blache III about the reception of his work from a gallery owner before meeting the artist in person and after, where he was excited about his work, then "didn't realize he was black," and suddenly becoming reticent about showing it is all we really need to know. There is a litany of similar experiences here, though, coming from the relatively prominent Benny Andrews (who died shortly after his interview was filmed) to Blache, John Ashford, and sadly lesser-known people like Nanette Carter and Marva Huston. They're all worth hearing and tell their stories in a satisfying manner that makes me wish the film was a little longer.
The discussion could be deeper, but Wilson presents Colored Frames within a short time frame and in a suitably straightforward style. The artists are engaging characters with valuable tales to tell. It isn't the kind of thing that I plan to pull out for parties, but it taught me quite a bit about black artists, most of whom I was totally unfamiliar with, and opened up a vein of conversation I don't often think about, which is always a welcome development.
Colored Frames receives a better than expected release from Microcinema. The image quality is what you expect from a recently produced documentary, with a clear picture, solid colors, and no transfer issues at all. The stereo audio mix is crisp and completely fine for what it has to do, which isn't a whole lot. The extras are strong for a short documentary, though. The audio commentary with director Wilson and producer Nonyo Christian Ugbodi is mostly a collection of friendly stories, but it's easy enough to listen to. Rounding out the disc is a couple of trailers and the best extra: the complete thirty minute interview with Benny Andrews, whose insights into the art world are extremely valuable. The film's official website features even more original interviews that are worth a look, as well.
It may not be the most exciting documentary in the world, but Colored Frames is a short and sweet primer on a criminally under-discussed section of the art world, with all the wisdom of the people who make the art. There's a lot more to learn and discuss on the subject, but Colored Frames is a very good place to start.
2012-02-12Technorati By Bob Etier
A startlingly impressive collection of art work by African American artists is interwoven with the memories of artists who experienced discrimination throughout their lives and their careers in a documentary relevant to Black History, filmmaker Lerone D. Wilsonâ€™s Colored Frames. Those of us who think of art as an international expression of talent might be surprised that in America even the art world was (and still is) largely discriminatory, stifling and exclusive of black artists. Colored Frames examines the struggle of artists from â€œthe height of the Civil Rights Era leading up to the present.â€
Black film and other social and cultural trends are discussed as well as the artistic merit of movie posters from Europe during the Blaxploitation era which were better examples of art than the exploitative posters that American studios commissioned. The movement of black artists into more abstract and impressionistic styles is also examined, as well as issues facing black artists such as the inequality represented in the prices paid for their art.
It is distressing to learn that discrimination against any people or form of art deprives people of the opportunity to experience the art of all people. No one will love every painting presented in Colored Frames: A Visual Art Documentary, but these incredible images defy categorization as â€œBlack.â€ They capture universal emotions, history, and relevant themes regardless of the skin color of the artists or the subjects.
Participants in Colored Frames are gallery owners, artists, and African American art experts, including Benny Andrews, John Ashford, Gustave Blache III, Linda Goode Bryant, Nanette Carter, Ed Clark, Adger W. Cowans, Francks Deceus, Larry Hampton, Marva Huston, Gordon James, June Kelly, John Duke Kisch, Wangechi Mutu, Otto Neals, Ron Ollie, Howardena Pindell, Mary Schmidt Campbell, Danny Simons, Michael J. Singletary, Diane Smith, Duane Smith, Tafa, and Ann Tanksley. They share their memories, many painful, about attempts to have their works accepted and respected.
This highly acclaimed and thought-provoking documentary provides a rare and illuminating exploration of the creative process through incisive portraits of five seminal figures from a significant chapter in contemporary American folk art. Variously... more >