Robert Colescott
Colored TV, 1977

Artwork Info

Artwork title
Colored TV
Artist name
Robert Colescott
Date created
acrylic paint on canvas
84 × 66 × 1 1/2 in. (213.4 × 167.6 × 3.8 cm)
Date acquired
Collection SFMOMA
Gift of Vicki and Kent Logan
© Estate of Robert Colescott / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
Permanent URL
Artwork status
On view on floor 5 as part of Afterimages: Echoes of the 1960s in the Fisher and SFMOMA Collections

Audio Stories

Using humor to get at serious issues

Show TranscriptHide Transcript


SFX: Television tunes in to a channel. Ambient sounds from recording session throughout – muffled, not audible or of substance, laughter, table noise, etc. plays underneath the stop – intention is to make it feel as if this is unfolding in real time.



Sometimes, someone shows you something that makes you say – Ahh!! For a group of us recently, that someone was curator Caitlin Haskell.


SFX: (audible, but still in the background, under the narration) It’s one of my favorites.


NARRATOR: We were having a conversation about this very painting —



Colored TV.



And this is what happened–



In some ways it seems like it’s a…just a one-liner. Right? Colored TV, you’ve got a colored TV set picture there. Maybe a second reading would be: Who’s on the television but sort of a-a starlet with blond hair.


[Unidentified voice in the room] A busty blond.



It draws attention to the racial difference between the-the person who’s on the television and the person watching the television.

And then there’s a third reading of it, which we get through this worker’s boot there. Colored Transvestite. So that is a man dressed like a woman (CROWD AMBI: Mmmm. Mmmm.) sort of looking at this blonde (CROWD AMBI: AAAAAAAAhhhhh)

And as it says there on the bottom “Wishing on a Prime Time Star.” So that’s — you have a really nuanced cultural critique going on here you’ve got the middle class attributes of the fireplace and you’ve got a black stallion on the mantle too (group laughs) – and the lily pad carpet he signs C. Monet (more laughs) and just the color that he’s using, it’s such a great, great painting, I mean it looks like it was painted yesterday.

Read MoreCollapse

Other Works by Robert Colescott

Please note that artwork locations are subject to change, and not all works are on view at all times. If you are planning a visit to SFMOMA to see a specific work of art, we suggest you contact us at collections@sfmoma.org to confirm it will be on view.

Only a portion of SFMOMA's collection is currently online, and the information presented here is subject to revision. Please contact us at collections@sfmoma.org to verify collection holdings and artwork information. If you are interested in receiving a high resolution image of an artwork for educational, scholarly, or publication purposes, please contact us at copyright@sfmoma.org.

This resource is for educational use and its contents may not be reproduced without permission. Please review our Terms of Use for more information.