Special Edition: 🖌️Artists’ Signatures

In 2011, I was visiting a retrospective of art by Julien Hudson (1811–1844) at the Worcester Art Museum. There, I learned that his paintings were often hard to identify because, after the calcifying of anti-Black laws in 19th-century Louisiana, he and other Creole artists were increasingly marginalized. That also meant that Hudson’s signature was erased from certain works and often replaced with the signatures of White artists. I remember that specific case because I’d encountered the stories of other minoritized artists who had suffered similar fates during times of persecution. It brought up a larger question that I continue to ponder, namely, “What’s the value of artists’ signatures and why do they matter?”

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