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Corcoran’s ’30 Americans’ Exhibit Shines Spotlight On Racial Identity Across Generations; Private Opening Draws At-Capacity Crowd!

By Daniel Swartz on September 28, 2011
Artist Kehinde Wiley poses in front of his painting titled "Sleep" (2008, Oil on canvas, 132 x 300 inches).
Artist Kehinde Wiley poses in front of his painting titled "Sleep" (2008, Oil on canvas, 132 x 300 inches).
Be sure to check out all 58 of our photographs from this event HERE!
The Guest List:
NORTHWEST -- Organized and on loan from the Rubell Family Collection, the Corcoran Gallery of Art’s new ’30 Americans’ exhibit (October 1st, 2011-February 12th, 2012) was privately previewed before a crowd of more than 1,000 on Tuesday night, during an event that was literally as American as apple pie (the evening’s topical snack of choice).

Collection owners Don and Mera Rubell.

The show draws its name from the 31 African American artists who are represented throughout the 76 paintings, sculptures, drawings, photographs, and videos that make-up the exhibition. It was called “30 Americans”, however, because nationality is a statement of fact, while racial identify is a personal form of expression according to Don and Mera Rubell. And the title’s number is 30 instead of 31 out of deference to the fact that the show “does not include everyone who could be in it.”


First shown inside the Rubell family’s own Miami, Florida-based museum space a few years back, the exhibition has been newly reconceived for its 2011 Washington debut, with a particular emphasis on highlighting the relationships – be they thematic, political or personal – between artists across generations.


“The Rubells built their collection by speaking with artists and finding out who they were looking at – it is very much an artist-based gathering of works and we wanted to give form to that,” said Sarah Newman, curator of both contemporary art at the Corcoran as well as the presentation itself.

Mayor Vincent Gray proclaimed September 27th, 2011 to be ’30 Americans Day’.

And last night, an at-capacity crowd gathered at the Corcoran for the first chance to see such form. The evening represented the official end to ’30 Americans Day’, as formally proclaimed by D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray.

Guests stream into the Corcoran’s upper-level exhibition space.

Everyone from the Rubells themselves to Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton to noted collector Peggy Cooper Cafritz to the Washington Post’s Executive Editor Marcus Brauchli were in attendance, including 16 of the featured artists.

Last night’s private preview featured a live performance by D.C.-based Urban Artistry.

(African) American genius has never looked so encouraging!


Be sure to check out all 58 of our photographs from this event HERE!
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