Nina Chanel Abney

Royal Flush

Nina Chanel Abney

Book Pages: 124 Illustrations: 150 color illustrations Published: February 2017

African American Studies and Black Diaspora, Art and Visual Culture > Art Criticism and Theory

This catalogue accompanies the exhibition Nina Chanel Abney: Royal Flush, a ten-year survey of one of the most provocative and iconoclastic artists working today. Abney is at the forefront of a generation of artists that is unapologetically revitalizing narrative figurative painting, and as a skillful story-teller, she visually articulates the complex social dynamics of contemporary urban life. Her works are informed as much by mainstream news media as they are by animated cartoons, video games, hip-hop culture, celebrity websites, and tabloid magazines. She draws on these sources to make paintings replete with figures, numbers, and words that appear to have tumbled onto the canvas with the stream-of-consciousness immediacy of text messages, pop-up windows, a Twitter feed, or the scrolling headlines of an incessant twenty-four-hour news cycle. By engaging loaded topics and controversial issues with irreverence, humor, and lampooning satire, Abney’s works are both pointed contemporary genre scenes as well as scathing commentaries on social attitudes and inequities. 
Abney’s first solo museum exhibition, Royal Flush will be comprised of the artist’s large-scale paintings, along with smaller collages and watercolors. While her work has strong ties to important modernist forebears such as Robert Colescott, Stuart Davis, Romare Bearden, and Faith Ringgold, among others, its distinct and arresting visual articulation of the human condition is inherently suited to the rapid-fire and unceasing quality of the Digital Age. Her dense and colorful iconography, a skillful engagement with serious issues, and the provocative way in which she addresses them has brought this young artist increasing critical acclaim in the contemporary art world.
Royal Flush will be on display at the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University from February 16 to July 16, 2017.

Contributors: Jamillah James, Natalie Y. Moore, Marshall N. Price, Richard J. Powell, Sarah Schroth

Publication of the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University


"[A]n exemplary catalog from a small museum. Its plentiful reproductions vividly trace the headlong first decade of the work of Nina Chanel Abney, a promising painter whose bright, stenciled surfaces draw equally from dire current events and modernist art." — Roberta Smith, New York Times

"Abney discards entrenched, oppositional viewpoints to establish a more open critical position. This work brings a crucially calm tone to a fraught discussion about identity." — Christopher Vitiello, Delicious Line


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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Marshall N. Price is the Nancy Hanks Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art at the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University. He has organized dozens of exhibitions, most recently A Material Legacy: The Nancy A. Nasher and David J. Haemisegger Collection of Contemporary Art (2016), and has lectured and written extensively on modern and contemporary art.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Director's Foreword / Sarah Schroth  8
Curator's Acknowledgments / Marshall N. Price  10
Preface / Richard J. Powell  13
American Complex(ion): Nina Chanel Abney's Portrait of a Society in the the Media Age / Marshall N. Price  17
Say So / Nina Chanel Abney and Jamillah James  71
Social Insurrection and Racial Justice in the Twilight of the Obama Era / Natalie Y. Moore  91
Selected Bibliography and Further Reading  104
Exhibition Checklist  112
Contributors  117
Reproduction Credits  119
Lenders to the Exhibition / Museum Staff and Board Members  123
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Paper ISBN: 978-0-938989-41-7
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