Analyzing the strategies used by African-American artists to gain institutional legitimation of their work and the tactics used by museum professionals, Susan Cahan’s Mounting Frustration: The Art Museum in the Age of Black Power (Duke University Press, 2017) reveals a history of power struggles that challenged fundamental assumptions about the art system. How did the adjustments of this period in American history both modify and preserve the racial system that was in place before the Civil Rights movement? Through a series of case studies of museum exhibitions during the intensely fertile period of 1968 to 1972, questions such as this are explored.

Susan E. Cahan is an art historian, educator, and curator specializing in contemporary art and the history of museums. She is currently the associate dean for the arts at Yale College. Before joining Yale, Cahan served as the Des Lee Endowed Professor in Contemporary Art at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, and has taught at Bard College and the University of California, Los Angeles. She has directed programs at the New Museum of Contemporary Art, the Museum of Modern Art, and the Peter Norton Family Foundation. Her recent essays include “Rethinking Contemporary Art and Multicultural Education” (Routledge, 2011) and “The Wonder Years” in Tim Rollins and K.O.S.: A History (MIT Press, 2009). She is also the co-editor of Contemporary Art and Multicultural Education (Routledge, 1996).