Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power
09.14.2018 — 02.03.2019
Kavi Gupta congratulates gallery artists Jae Jarrell, Wadsworth Jarrell, and Gerald Williams on their participation in Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power, which opened last night at the Brooklyn Museum after traveling from London’s Tate Modern and most recently Crystal Bridges in Bentonville, AR. The exhibition will be on view through Sunday, February 3, 2019.
Building on the momentum stemming from the overdue recognition of revolutionary black artists, on September 29th at our 219 N. Elizabeth St. location, Kavi Gupta will present AFRICOBRA 50, a landmark exhibition of original works by the five founding members of AFRICOBRA (African Commune of Bad Relevant Artists)—Gerald Williams, Jae Jarrell, Wadsworth Jarrell, Jeff Donaldson, and Barbara Jones-Hogu—the black artist collective that defined the visual aesthetic of the Black Arts Movement of the 1960s and 70s.
Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power shines light on a broad spectrum of Black artistic practice from 1963 to 1983, one of the most politically, socially, and aesthetically revolutionary periods in American history. Black artists across the country worked in communities, in collectives, and individually to create a range of art responsive to the moment—including figurative and abstract painting, prints, and photography; assemblage and sculpture; and performance.
Many of the over 150 artworks in the exhibition directly address the unjust social conditions facing Black Americans, such as Faith Ringgold’s painting featuring a “bleeding” flag and Emory Douglas’s graphic images of beleaguered Black city life. Additional works present oblique references to racial violence, such as Jack Whitten’s abstract tribute to Malcolm X, made in response to the activist’s assassination, or Melvin Edwards’s contorted metal sculptures. Working as a collective, members of the AfriCOBRA group presented images of uplift and empowerment. Barkley Hendricks, Emma Amos, and others painted everyday portraits of Black people with reverence and wit. All the artists embraced a spirit of aesthetic innovation, but some took this as their primary goal, often through experiments with color and paint application.
This exhibition brings together for the first time the excitingly disparate practices of more than sixty Black artists from this important moment, offering an unparalleled opportunity to see their extraordinary works side by side.
Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power is organized by Tate Modern in collaboration with the Brooklyn Museum and Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, Arkansas, and The Broad, Los Angeles, and curated by Mark Godfrey, Senior Curator, International Art, and Zoe Whitley, Curator, International Art, Tate Modern. The Brooklyn Museum presentation is curated by Ashley James, Assistant Curator, Contemporary Art, Brooklyn Museum.