After the Renaissance: Art and Harlem in the 1960s


Luce/ACLS Dissertation Fellowships in American Art


Art History


This dissertation reconceptualizes the artistic geography of postwar New York City to include Harlem—a neighborhood deeply rooted in African American and Puerto Rican culture. Art histories of 1960s New York focus almost exclusively on downtown, while histories of Harlem often overemphasize a declension narrative that portrays the neighborhood as the paradigmatic American ghetto. In contrast, this dissertation considers the fundamental role of artistic practice in defining Harlem’s vibrant political and social landscapes in the 1960s. By analyzing exhibitions, abstract painting, photography, and collective practice, this dissertation argues that African American and Puerto Rican artists challenged monolithic characterizations of Harlem as a national symbol of dispossession by grappling with the complexities of urban place and racial politics that defined one of the most turbulent decades in postwar American history.