top of page


In 1991, the New York Times published an article about an up-and-coming African-American artist turning heads at the Brooklyn Museum of Art. The work sparked such controversy that the article made the front page. It was a colour photograph, depicting a nude woman assuming the role of Christ in the Last Supper - an image Mayor Rudolph Giuliani called ‘disgusting’, ‘outrageous’ and ‘anti-Catholic’, demanding it be taken down. The artist’s response to the Mayor? ‘Get over it’.

That artist was Renée Cox. 


Renee Cox - Yo Mama's Last Supper

One of the most influential living black photographers working today, Cox’s works have inspired a generation. Her images are as fearless as they are iconic, trailblazing the path for women and those of colour to follow. Her formidable shadow looms large over the contemporary art world; studied in universities, and heavily featured in art history courses. Cox herself is at the forefront of the academic conversation, assuming the role of Adjunct Professor at NYU, a role she proudly held for two years. Cox has also taught at Columbia University and as a critic at Yale. 


Renee Cox
Renee  Cox

Cox will be remembered not only for the unique flair of her works, but also for the statements they make. Each and every photograph represents a seismic shift in our cultural dialogue: socio-political in subject and implication, works such as Liberty in the South Bronx take landmark imagery - in this case, the Statue of Liberty - and ask us to question just how free a people we really are. In Yo Mama’s Last Supper, the image that set her on a collision course with the Mayor of her own city, Cox takes us to the heart of high culture, and then places herself front and centre, using her naked body as a symbol of female strength, unshackled from the chains of history that once suppressed her race. She’s an iconoclast with a hip-hop sensibility.



Cox was recently the subject of a solo museum presentation at Princeton University (Nov 2023 - January 2024) where curator Klaudia Ofwona Draber wrote:

"In her monumental self-portraiture, Cox unmasks the complexity and evolution of the self. She commands: “thou shalt not” wait for the world to validate you. Peace and serenity manifest in the careful consideration Cox gives to the Black female body that is her own. Two additional works from the series Yo Mama, The Beached (1993) and Yo Mama at Home (1993), offer a refuge and the feeling of safety a mother provides. Much of Cox’s work is inspired by the civil rights movement and the transformations she experienced growing up. As a woman and a mother, she takes matters into her own hands, protecting—as when she portrays herself as the Virgin Mary or when she holds a naked male body on her lap in Yo Mama’s Pieta (1994). That work is one of the artist’s ongoing responses to the lynching of Black men through gun and police violence."

Museum Collections (A Selection)


Whitney Museum
Brooklyn Museum 
Studio Museum, Harlem 
Princeton Art Museum 
Columbia Art Museum 
Cornell Fine Art Museum 
Kemper Museum of Art 
National gallery of Jamaica 
Yale University 
Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art 
Spelman Museum 
Sheldon Art Museum, University of Nebraska
Nasher Museum of Art
Tang Museum Collection
The Hood Museum at Dartmouth
Rose Art Museum at Brandeis University
University Art Collection of The New School 
National Gallery, South Africa 

bottom of page