Indiana University Bloomington IU Bloomington IUB

Lightening Lipstick

Using parody, satire, and humor in his paintings, Robert Colescott addressed serious contemporary social issues, especially those facing African Americans. Lightening Lipstick reflects how the perception of skin color in the United States and the Caribbean informs identity. As the light-skinned woman in the painting applies her lipstick and exclaims in Spanish, “¡Soy latina!” (I am a Latina!), a darker figure—her reflection—peers at her from the mirror, and responds, “Negrita!” (Black woman!). Colescott thus asks the viewer to meditate on whether our categorization of others matches their perceptions of themselves.

Robert Colescott
American, 1925–2009
Lightening Lipstick
Acrylic on canvas
90 x 114 in. (228.6 x 289.6 cm)
Sidney and Lois Eskenazi Museum of Art, Museum purchase with funds from Lawrence and Lucienne Glaubinger, the Arlene and Harold Schnitzer CARE Foundation, the Elisabeth P. Myers Art Acquisition Fund, and the Joseph Granville and Anna Bernice Wells Memorial Fund, 2005.2

Large image not available.