The Art Angle Podcast: Lorraine O’Grady on the Social Castes of the Art World

This week, chief art critic Ben Davis speaks with the acclaimed artist about her circuitous route to the art world, activism, and a newly opened retrospective at the Brooklyn Museum.

Lorraine O'Grady in 2019. (Photo by Gonzalo Marroquin/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images.)

Welcome to the Art Angle, a podcast from Artnet News that delves into the places where the art world meets the real world, bringing each week’s biggest story down to earth. Join host Andrew Goldstein every week for an in-depth look at what matters most in museums, the art market, and much more with input from our own writers and editors as well as artists, curators, and other top experts in the field.


This month, as the world limps its way toward spring and, hopefully, a gradual return of normality, the Brooklyn Museum has opened a show called “Lorraine O’Grady: Both/And” that provides valuable fodder for thought in the year ahead.

As the title suggests, it’s a career retrospective of the venerated performance and experimental artist Lorraine O’Grady, who for more than 40 years has created poetic, hard-to-classify works that probe questions of inclusion and identity in a way that has had a deep, orienting impact on a whole rising generation. Admirers are quick to point to the power of her writing as well, perhaps particularly “Olympia’s Maid,” her classic 1992 essay considering the flattening of Black female sexuality in art history.

It so happens that Ben Davis, our chief art critic, has been one of these admirers for a long time, and he recently sat down with the artist in the run-up to her retrospective to discuss her career, how her upbringing in Boston’s Caribbean-American community shaped her art, what it was like to go viral when the Biden administration paid homage to her work in a post-election ad, and much more.

Lorraine O’Grady: Both/And” is on view at the Brooklyn Museum through July 18, 2021


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