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Mike Henderson: Before the Fire, 1965-1985

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The first major exhibition and catalog dedicated to the work of groundbreaking painter and filmmaker Mike Henderson.

Mike Henderson (b. 1944) is a painter, filmmaker, and professor emeritus at University of California, Davis. Published to accompany his first museum retrospective, this catalog surveys Henderson's paintings and films from 1965 to 1985, which are rooted as much in Francisco Goya's horror of humanity as in Sun Ra's hope for a new Black future. In the work of that time, Henderson depicted scenes of racial violence, heteromasculinity, and abject social conditions with force and unflinching directness.

In 1985, a studio fire damaged much of Henderson's output from the previous two decades, obscuring vital ideas about a time of tumult and change, often referred to as a world on fire. Mike Henderson: Before the Fire, 1965-1985 addresses Henderson's multifaceted art of that period, which examined and offered new ideas about Black life in the visual languages of protest, Afrofuturism, and surrealism.

Published in association with the Jan Shrem and Maria Manetti Shrem Museum of Art, University of California, Davis

Exhibition dates:

Jan Shrem and Maria Manetti Shrem Museum of Art
January 29-June 25, 2023

ISBN-13: 9780520388055

Media Type: Hardcover

Publisher: University of California Press

Publication Date: 01-29-2023

Pages: 128

Product Dimensions: 10.80h x 9.80w x 0.60d

Mike Henderson is a pioneering African American artist, filmmaker and musician, whose dynamic practice has spanned more than fifty years. Born and raised in Marshall, Missouri, he moved to the Bay Area to attend the San Francisco Art Institute in 1965. He has been the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship (1973) and two National Endowment for the Arts Artist Grants (1989, 1978), and he was recently awarded the 2019 Artadia San Francisco Award.

Sampada Aranke, PhD, is Assistant Professor in the Department of Art History, Theory, and Criticism at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Her work has appeared in e-flux, Artforum, Art Journal, ASAP/J, and October and in catalogues for Sadie Barnette, Betye Saar, Rashid Johnson, Faith Ringgold, and many others. Her book, Death's Futurity: The Visual Life of Black Power, will be published in February 2023.

Dan Nadel is former Curator at Large of the Jan Shrem and Maria Manetti Shrem Museum of Art, University of California, Davis. He has mounted exhibitions including What Nerve! Alternative Figures in American Art: 1960 to the Present; Gertrude Abercrombie; Kathy Butterly ColorForm; and Chicago Comics, 1960s to Now. Nadel is the author and editor of several books, including Peter Saul: Professional Artist Correspondence, 1945-1976; The Collected Hairy Who Publications 1966-1969; and It's Life As I See It: Black Cartoonists in Chicago, 1940-1980.