Date of Award

Spring 6-4-2022

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Global Arts and Cultures

First Advisor

Leora Maltz-Leca

Second Advisor

Ijlal Muzaffar


Artistic influence can either be overbearing or liberating for the impressionable artist who is determined to arrive at an individualized artistic identity. One key strategy deployed by the artist is disinheritance as a means by which identity and meaning are created. In her paintings and etchings, British-Ghanaian painter Lynette Yiadom-Boakye has demonstrated several modalities of disinheritance by which she has arrived at a distinct approach to portraiture. Broadly, they come under two categories of major and minor disinheritance, each of which is conditioned by a variety of factors that range from aesthetic to philosophical, personal to political. They signify points of divergence away from the dominant influences in Yiadom-Boakye’s formation as an artist to her maturity as a leading painter in contemporary British art and African diaspora art. The conditions of disinheritance proceed in two forms: as wholesale changes (major swerves) and/or selective alterations (minor swerves). The major mode of disinheritance which the artist has adopted is grand style portraiture of dignified, Black figures rarely seen in western art history from pre-Renaissance right until the twenty first century. In addition, these disinheritances are in service of Yiadom-Boakye’s own obsession with the “intelligibility” of liquid paint as an intellectual as well as aesthetic tool. Her commitment to the possibilities of paint is repeated in her minor disinheritance where the chromatic possibilities of Black as a color are as infinite as they are as interpretations of individuality.


View exhibition online: Sabo Kpade, Disinheritance as critique



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