Stephen Friedman Gallery is pleased to present American artist Deborah Roberts’ first solo exhibition at the gallery and in Europe. Combining collage with mixed media, Roberts' figurative works depict the complexity of black subjecthood and explore themes of race, identity and gender politics. The exhibition is accompanied by a new publication featuring an essay by Daniella Rose King, Whitney-Lauder Curatorial Fellow at the Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia. Roberts will have a major solo exhibition at The Contemporary Austin, Texas in September 2020.
George Vasey (Curator at the Wellcome Collection, London, regular contributor to Art Review, Frieze and Art Monthly, and curator of the Turner Prize 2017) will conduct a walkthrough of the exhibition with the artist at 6:15pm during the Private View on Thursday 6 June 2019.
The exhibition’s title ‘If they come’ is drawn from an open letter penned by James Baldwin to political activist Angela Davis during her incarceration in 1970. Its final sentence reads: “For, if they take you in the morning, they will be coming for us that night.” Here, Roberts uses Baldwin’s words to highlight the cross-generational struggle against racism and the socio-political parallels between 1970 and 2019. Continuing this call for solidarity, Roberts’ use of collage speaks to the challenges encountered by young black children as they strive to build their identity, particularly as they respond to preconceived social constructs perpetuated by the black community, the white gaze and visual culture at large. Combining a range of different facial features, skin tones, hairstyles and clothes, Roberts explains that “with collage, I can create a more expansive and inclusive view of the black cultural experience.”
In the new publication, Daniella Rose King writes: “Creating her subjects as composites of found images, imagined patterns, constructed postures and poetic titles, Roberts portrays a direct refutation and complication of the depictions of black bodies that have been circulating within the media since the dawn of the photographic era. Her project is one that simultaneously highlights, disavows and recreates the hierarchies, standards and narratives created and disseminated by institutions that have served the interests and sustainment of white supremacy. Throughout the new works shown in ‘If they come’, Roberts constructs new archetypes – images of fictional black boys and girls of ages 9 to 12 – who take on poses of strength and power at the same time as showing vulnerability and ambiguity. Challenging the criminalisation of black children, particularly boys, that is rampant globally, but nowhere more so than in the US, Roberts has her subjects stare defiantly at the viewer, elevated on metaphorical pedestals, clad in the regalia of pop culture’s superheroes. Her visual counterpoints seek to subvert and challenge our dominant visual cultures. Yet, her subjects inhabit multiplicity and hybridity as various other subjects constitute them – including the faces of adults, and of individuals from different ethnicities – to suggest the constant, unfixed process of subject formation, particularly at this pivotal time in a person’s development from child to adult.”
The Anonymous Was a Woman award was presented to Roberts in December 2018, a prize granted each year to ten female artists over the age of 40 in the USA and at a critical juncture in their career. She was a recipient of the Pollock-Krasner Grant in 2016 and was an Artist in Residence at The Robert Rauschenberg Foundation, Florida earlier this year. Roberts is a finalist in the 2019 Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition and her work will be on show in the accompanying exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C. in October 2019. Upcoming group exhibitions include ‘Cut and Paste: 400 Years of Collage’, Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh, Scotland, UK (2019) and ‘Get Up, Stand Up Now: Generations of Black Creative Pioneers’, Somerset House, London, UK (2019), both coinciding with Roberts’ solo exhibition at the gallery.
Other selected exhibitions include ‘Plumb Line: Charles White and the Contemporary’, Californian African American Museum (CAAM), Los Angeles, USA (2019); ‘Native Sons: Many Thousands Gone’, Susanne Vielmetter Los Angeles Projects, Los Angeles, USA (2019); ‘Deborah Roberts: The Evolution of Mimi', Spelman College Museum of Fine Art, Atlanta, Georgia, USA (2018); 'Reclamation! Pan-African from the Beth Rudin DeWoody Collection', Taubman Museum of Art, Roanoke, Virginia, USA (2018); 'Talisman In The Age Of Difference', Stephen Friedman Gallery, London, UK (2018); 'Legacy of the Cool: A Tribute to Barkley L. Hendricks', MassArt, Boston, Massachusetts, USA (2018); ’Constructing Identity in America (1766-2017)’, Montclair Art Museum, New Jersey, USA (2017); ‘Fictions’, The Studio Museum in Harlem, New York, New York, USA (2017); 'I know why the caged bird sings', Carver Museum, Austin, Texas, USA (2016); 'Gently Fried', MACC, Austin, Texas, USA (2015); and 'The House on Mango Street', National Mexican American Museum, Chicago, Illinois, USA (2015).
Roberts' work is held in the collections of Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, New York; Brooklyn Museum, New York, New York; The Studio Museum in Harlem, New York, New York; Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond, Virginia; 21c Museum Hotels, Louisville, Kentucky; The Frances Young Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery, Saratoga Springs, New York; Block Museum of Art, Evanston, Illinois; Pérez Art Museum Miami (PAMM), Miami, Florida; LACMA, Los Angeles, California; Montclair Art Museum, Montclair, New Jersey; Blanton Museum of Art, Austin, Texas; and Pizzuti Collection, Columbus, Ohio.
Now, personalize your account so you can discover more art you'll love.PERSONALIZE YOUR ACCOUNT
a treasure trove of fine art from the world's most renowned artists, galleries, museums and cultural institutions. We offer exclusive works you can't find anywhere else.
through exclusive content featuring art news, collecting guides, and interviews with artists, dealers, collectors, curators and influencers.
authentic artworks from across the globe. Collecting with us means you're helping to sustain creative culture and supporting organizations that are making the world a better place.
with our art advisors for buying advice or to help you find the art that's perfect for you. We have the resources to find works that suit your needs.
Artspace offers you authentic, exclusive works from world-renowned artists, galleries, museums and cultural institutions. Collecting with us helps support creative culture while bringing you art news, interviews and access to global art resources.
COLLECT FROM 300+ GALLERIES & MUSEUMS
Tailor your art, news & information to your preferences.View Preference Center
Welcome to the world's premier online marketplace for fine art.
Enjoy 10% on your next purchase by using coupon code WELCOME10 at checkout.
The world's premier online marketplace for fine art.
Enjoy 10% on your next purchase by using coupon code PHAIDON10 at checkout.
Tailor your art, news & information to your preferences.
Your preferences have been saved
to your account. Update them at any time
in your Preference Center
For first-time buyers and avid collectors alike, a personal Artspace Art Advisor can assist you in learning about, discovering and falling in love with an artwork.
Collector Services will contact you within two business days.
To place a bid, enter the maximum amount you are willing to pay for the work. Artspace will accept a bid at the next increment, and save any excess amount as a maximum bid. If you are outbid, we will continue bid on your behalf up to your maximum bid.
Bidding increments increase at the following intervals:
You will receive an email confirmation of your bid and when you are outbid.
If you are the winning bidder, you will be contacted 48 hours after of the close of the auction.
Every bid submitted is treated as a maximum bid. You should always bid the maximum you are willing to spend for a work, though this does not necessarily mean you will pay that price. As the auction unfolds, we will increase your bid by increments to ensure you remain the highest bidder. If the winning amount is less than your maximum bid, you will pay the current increment. If your maximum bid no longer exceeds the current bid, you will receive an outbid notification email, and have the option to bid again.
In the case of multiple bidders placing the same maximum bid, the first person to place the maximum amount takes precedence as the highest bid until another bidder exceeds the maximum amount.
For Artspace Auctions winning bidders are charged a 15% Buyer's Premium on top of the hammer price. For Artspace Benefit Auctions, Buyer's Premiums are not applied. If they are, this will be clearly noted. Purchases made from all auctions, including benefit auctions, are subject to sales tax.
Winning bidders will be contacted within 48 hours to arrange shipping and to provide final price including commission, shipping, and taxes and duties when applicable. Promotion codes cannot be applied to auction works.
All our frames are manufactured in the USA, using eco-friendly & sustainably sourced engineered hardwood for durability and a uniform finish that is free of defects. Frames are available in Black or White Satin and Honey Pecan.
All prints are hinged to a conservation quality, acid-free and lignin-free Alpha Cellulose matboard, using an acid-free linen tape. The mat's surface paper is fade and bleed resistant and is attached to a conservation quality foam-core mounting board that will keep the work safe from deterioration over time. Artworks with a deckled or decorative edges will be floated on the matboard, with acrylic spacers to separate the art from the glazing. All mounting is fully reversible, without any potential damage to the art.
All of our frames come with picture quality .090 mm plexiglass, which blocks 66% of UV to prevent color fading from exposure to light, keeping your art protected for years to come. It is now considered the industry standard for artists, museums and galleries throughout the world.
For images up to 30" x 40"
For sheet sizes larger than 30” x 40”