Posing Beauty by Deborah Willis
African American Images from the 1890s to the Present

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Synopsis

Long overlooked in American culture, African American beauty finally get its due in this landmark work.

As a student in the 1970s, Deborah Willis came to the realization that images of black beauty, female and male, simply did not exist in the larger culture. Determined to redress this imbalance, Willis examined everything from vintage ladies’ journals to black newspapers, and started what would become a lifelong quest. With more than two hundred arresting images, many previously unpublished, Posing Beauty recovers a world many never knew existed. Historical subjects such as Billie Holiday and Josephine Baker illuminate the past; Angela Davis and Muhammad Ali take us to the civil rights era; Denzel Washington, Lil’ Kim, and Michelle Obama celebrate the present. Featuring the works of more than one hundred photographers, including Carl van Vechten, Eve Arnold, Lee Friedlander, and Carrie Mae Weems, Willis’s book not only celebrates the lives of the famous but also captures the barber shop, the bodybuilding contest, and prom night. Posing Beauty challenges our most fundamental assumptions about what it means to be “beautiful.”
242 duotone photographs; 40 pages of five-color photographs
 

About Deborah Willis

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She has taught photography & the history of photography at New York University, City University of New York & the Brooklyn Museum. She lives in Washington, D. C..
 
Published October 5, 2009 by W. W. Norton & Company. 244 pages
Genres: History, Political & Social Sciences, Arts & Photography. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Posing Beauty

The New York Times

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More than 200 arresting photographs convey the complexity and scope of African-American beauty.

Dec 06 2009 | Read Full Review of Posing Beauty: African Americ...

Bookmarks Magazine

Featuring the works of more than one hundred photographers, including Carl van Vechten, Eve Arnold, Lee Friedlander, and Carrie Mae Weems, Willis’s book not only celebrates the lives of the famous but also captures the barber shop, the bodybuilding contest, and prom night.

Dec 07 2009 | Read Full Review of Posing Beauty: African Americ...

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