Cutting a Figure: Fashioning Black Portraiture

by Richard J. Powell


Examining portraits of Black people over the past two centuries, Cutting a Figure argues that these images should be viewed as a distinct category of portraiture that differs significantly from depictions of people with other racial and ethnic backgrounds. The difference, Richard Powell contends, lies in the social capital that stems directly from the Black subject’s power to subvert dominant racist representations by evincing such traits as self-composure, self-adornment, and self-imagining.

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