Photography by Hank Willis Thomas, essays by Rene de Guzman and Robin D.G. Kelley.
Aperture, New York, 2008. 128 pp., 124 four-color illustrations., 8x10".
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-
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.
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