He is Research Professor and Chief Curator at the Center for Art, Design and Visual Culture, University of Maryland, Baltimore County and Consulting Curator at the Jewish Museum in New York. A student of the pioneering theoretical art historian, Rosalind E. Krauss, he completed a B.A. at Hunter College and Ph.D. in art history and critical theory at the City University of New York. He then turned his attention to race. One of the few white kids in his low-income housing project on Manhattan's Lower East Side, Berger grew up hyper-sensitized to race. Due to his experiences, he looked beyond the world of "critical theory" to address the relevance of visual culture, and especially images of race, to everyday life.
Berger engages the issues of racism, whiteness, and contemporary race relations and their connection to visual culture in the United States. He is one of the first art historians to meld the methodologies and practices of cultural and art history with those of race studies and critical race theory, work begun by Berger in the mid-1980s as an assistant professor of art and gallery director at Hunter College. His earliest effort in this area--co-organized with the anthropologist Johnnetta B. Cole at Hunter College in 1987--was an interdisciplinary project (that included a book, art exhibition, and film program) entitled "Race and Representation." His widely-anthologized study on institutional racism--"Are Art Museums Racist?"--appeared in Art in America three years later, and helped spur a national debate on the exclusionary practices of American art museums.
In the early-1990s, Berger extended his work on visual culture and race to include sustained study of the work of African-American artists, performers, filmmakers, producers, and cultural figures, culminating both in solo exhibitions ("Adrian Piper: A Retrospective" and "Fred Wilson Objects and Installations"), multimedia projects (including compilation videos and elaborate context stations for art exhibitions), and essays (on subjects as diverse as black artists and the limitations of mainstream art criticism, the racial implications of art historical and curatorial efforts to evaluate "outsider" art, the stereotypical representation of Jewish masculinity on American television, and the Jewish identity of the African-American entertainer Sammy Davis, Jr.).
Berger has also curated a number of race-related concept-based exhibitions, including For All the World to See: Visual Culture and the Struggle for Civil Rights-a joint venture of the National Museum of African American History and Culture of the Smithsonian Institution and the Center for Art, Design & Visual Culture at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. This exhibition is the first to comprehensively examine the role played by visual images in shaping, influencing, and transforming the modern struggle for racial equality and justice in the United States. It opened at International Center of Photography in New York in May 2010 and travels to the DuSable Museum of African American History (Chicago), Smithsonian National Museum of American History (DC), National Civil Rights Museum (Memphis), Center for Art, Design and Visual Culture (Baltimore), Addison Gallery of American Art (Andover, MA) and other venues. For All the World to See was selected by the National Endowment for the Humanities as the twelfth NEH on the Road exhibition, an initiative that will adapt the exhibition in a smaller, lower security version and travel it to up to 25 more venues, mostly smaller and mid-size institutions across the country over a five year period from 2012 to 2017.
He is also the author of White Lies: Race and the Myths of Whiteness that debunks our myths and false assumptions about race in America. In White Lies, he encourages us to reckon with our own complex and often troubling opinions about race. The result is an uncommonly honest and affecting look at race in America today--free of cant, surprisingly entertaining, unsettled and unsettling.
Maurice Berger, 2000, by Robert Giard (http://beinecke.library.yale.edu/dl_crosscollex/brbldl_getrec.asp?fld=img&id=1123726)
American photographer Robert Giard is renowned for his portraits of American poets and writers; his particular focus was on gay and lesbian writers. Some of his photographs of the American gay and lesbian literary community appear in his groundbreaking book Particular Voices: Portraits of Gay and Lesbian Writers, published by MIT Press in 1997. Giard’s stated mission was to define the literary history and cultural identity of gays and lesbians for the mainstream of American society, which perceived them as disparate, marginal individuals possessing neither. In all, he photographed more than 600 writers. (http://beinecke.library.yale.edu/digital
More Particular Voices at my website: http://www.elisarolle.com/, My Ramblings/Particular Voices
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