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Renee Cox

Updated: Jan 19, 2019

Artist 9 Renee Cox

Renee Cox is one of the most controversial African-American artists working today using her own body, both nude and clothed to celebrate black womanhood and criticize a society she often views as racist and sexist.

Her photographic series Yo Mama is a good example. It would be less engaging for some people and create a firestorm of controversy. In the series Flipping the Script, Cox took a number of European religious masterpieces, including Michelangelo's David and The Pieta, and reinterpreted them with contemporary black figures.

"...Christianity is big in the African-American community, but there are no representations of us," she said. "I took it upon myself to include people of color in these classic scenarios."

The photograph that created the most controversy when it was shown in a black photography exhibit at the Brooklyn Museum in New York City in 2001 was Yo Mama's Last Supper. It was a remake of Leonardo Da Vinci's Last Supper with a nude Cox siting in for Jesus Christ, surrounded by all black disciples, except for Judas who was white.

Many Roman Catholics were outraged at the photograph and New York Mayor Rudolph Guiliani called for the forming of a commission to set "decency standards" to keep such works from being shown in any New York museum that received public funds.

Cox responded by stating "I have a right to reinterpret the Last Supper as Leonardo Da Vinci created the Last Supper with people who look like him. The hoopla and the fury are because I'm a black female. It's about me having nothing to hide."

I love art where photography is pushed into new boundaries and I choose to focus on this specific artwork as I think it deals and reflects a lot about religious society and self expression. She converts this older artwork and subverts it into expressing a new story.

It’s ironic the form of a woman would be considered immoral when in contrast painting of women has been created for centuries as ‘pure’ ‘innocent’ art.

It draws into question if a woman presents herself naked is it viewed as a challenge?


The answer presented to me is yes. The image in question was reported and removed by Facebook from my page.

This censorship and feeling of nudity brings forward questions. If it was a painting would it haven been ok? If it wasn’t an artist using the layout of the last supper would it not have been reported? Is it because a black Woman has replaced ‘white’ Jesus?

Sources Consulted


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