Caribbean Art Exhibition Spans Three Museums

Sunday 17th, June 2012 / 07:50 Published by

Studio Museum in Harlem

In size, cultural scope and freshness of material, the three-museum exhibition “Caribbean: Crossroads of the World” is the big art event of the summer season in New York, itself one of the largest Caribbean cities.

To take in the entire thing requires traveling between the Studio Museum in Harlem and El Museo del Barrio, both in Manhattan, and across the East River to the Queens Museum of Art in Flushing. If you’re short on time or patience, any single segment is dense and vivid enough to give you the flavor of the whole. But if you can see all three, absolutely do.

Each tells a hugely complex story from a different thematic angle — collectively, a telling that has been long in the planning, and is long overdue. (Caribbean material has thus far not shared in the aura of glamour that has gathered around Latin American art.) While not strictly speaking a masterpiece show, its like won’t be attempted again on this scale and in this depth for some time.

The story is woven as much from questions as from answers, from intangibles as from facts. Is the Caribbean a place? If so, what are its boundaries? Are Florida and Colombia as much part of it as Cuba? Is there a Caribbean culture, and how do you define it, given the mix of African, Asian, European and indigenous elements that blend, in quite different proportions, on some three dozen islands in the region?

CAPTION: Crossroads of the World Ebony G. Patterson’s “Untitled, Species I” (2010-11), foreground, at the Studio Museum in Harlem, is part of this exhibition, also on view at El Museo del Barrio and the Queens Museum of Art.

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