Samuel Levi Jones at the Dallas Museum of Art

Installation view of When You See Me: Visibility in Contemporary Art/History, Dallas Museum of Art, Texas, 2024.
Lisbeth Thalberg

Galerie Lelong & Co. is pleased to announce the acquisition of Samuel Levi Jones’s 48 Portraits (Underexposed) (2012) by the Dallas Museum of Art, Texas. The work is currently on view in the exhibition When You See Me: Visibility in Contemporary Art/History, co-curated by Dr. Anna Katherine Brodbeck, Dr. Vivian Li, Ade Omotosho, and Veronica Myers, at the museum through April 13, 2025.

This important early work marks Jones’s first use of pulped source material, which has, in the years since, become a core component of the artist’s practice of abstraction as a means of transformation. Inspired by Gerhard Richter’s 1972 work by the same name, and its notable exclusion of women and people of color, Jones printed on pulped encyclopedia paper portraits of prominent African American figures across disciplines—24 women and 24 men—who, despite their achievements, were not formally represented in the 1972 Encyclopedia Britannica. The images are underexposed, inviting viewers to look more closely at these individuals, their accomplishments, and the authoritative volumes that ignored them. In the spring of 2023, 48 Portraits (Underexposed) was included in the solo exhibition Samuel Levi Jones: Conscious Intuition at Galerie Lelong & Co., when it was shown in its entirety for the first time on the East Coast.

Samuel Levi Jones
Samuel Levi Jones, 48 Portraits (Underexposed) (detail, James Baldwin), 2012.

With this acquisition, Jones’s 48 Portraits (Underexposed) joins Richter’s 48 Portraits in the collection of the Dallas Museum of Art. The works are shown together in dialogue in the exhibition When You See Me: Visibility in Contemporary Art/History, prompting an inquiry into the stakes of visibility and the work that must be done to write an inclusive history.

Of the importance of this work to his practice, Jones says, “during my undergraduate studies, 2010-12, I was considering the relationship between aesthetic visibility and metaphoric visibility (representation). In that, I was doing research on individuals who hadn’t received their due in pedagogy. Their work wasn’t part of any standard curriculum but was evidently part of everyday American—even human—life. Midway through the program, I was introduced to Gerhard Richter’s 48 Portraits and was taken aback by how it so perfectly personified white male patriarchy. I immediately wanted to create my own version which would challenge the status quo by including seminal African American figures in the arts and sciences. The portraits became the impetus for the work I continue to make, and the career I have. This isn’t because I work with figuration, but because I’m exploring innocuous representation. The portraits are barely visible but present, where the encyclopedias are barely legible. Both resources ask, ‘what are we valuing as a society, and who is falling through the cracks of this canon?’”

Samuel Levi Jones
Samuel Levi Jones, 48 Portraits (Underexposed), 2012. Suite of 48 inkjet prints on recycled Encyclopedia Britannica paper, each: 24.5 x 22 inches (62.2 x 55.9 cm). Dallas Museum of Art, TWO x TWO for AIDS and Art Fund, 2024.1.A-VV.
Share This Article
Journalist and artist (photographer). Editor of the art section at MCM. Contact: art (@) martincid (.) com
Leave a comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *