Pitch BlacknessPhotographs by Hank Willis Thomas
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Hank Willis Thomas gained wide recognition with his highly provocative series B®ANDED, which addresses the commodification of African-American male identity by raising questions about visual culture and the power of logos. Pitch Blackness, his first monograph, includes selections from this series and several others. The book begins with a deeply personal and interpretive re-telling of the senseless murder of young Songha Willis, the artist's cousin, who was robbed at gunpoint and murdered outside a nightclub in Philadelphia in 2000. It then charts Hank Willis Thomas's career as he grapples with the issues of grief, black-on-black violence in America, and the ways in which corporate culture is complicit in the crises of black male identity. The concluding section presents his newest body of work, Unbranded, in which Willis Thomas examines advertising and media representation of African-Americans. With his characteristic pointedness and dark humor, Willis Thomas shows in Pitch Blackness why he is considered one of today's most compelling emerging artists. Hank Willis Thomas is the first recipient of the Aperture West Book Prize. Pitch Blackness was made possible, in part, by the generous support of Sondra Gilman and Celso Gonzalez-Falla, and the LEF Foundation.
Hank Willis Thomas received his BFA from New York University, and an MFA in photography and an MA in visual criticism from California College of the Arts. His work has been exhibited at the Studio Museum in Harlem and the Wadsworth Atheneum, Hartford, among others, and is in the collections of the Whitney Museum of American Art; the Brooklyn Museum; the High Museum of Art, Atlanta; and the Museum of Fine Art, Houston. Currently a fellow at the W.E.B. DuBois Institute, Harvard University, Thomas is represented by Jack Shainman Gallery.