Visual Arts

Culture Type Picks: 15 Best Black Art Books of 2020

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WITH MUSEUMS CLOSED and galleries shuttered for months on end in 2020, a steady stream of new art books focused on Black artists provided much needed solace, insights, and deep dives into the practices of up-and-coming artists and historic figures. When exhibitions dedicated to Kamoinge Workshop, Tyler Mitchell, Jordan Casteel, and Yvette Yiadom-Boakye were temporarily closed or delayed, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, catalogs documenting the shows offered quarantine substitutes. Culture Type picks include monographs of Noah Davis, Ming Smith, and Bisa Butler, among the most-anticipated volumes of the year. Finally, curator Okwui Enwezor (1963-2019), left forthcoming projects when he died last year. Two of them are represented among the Best Black Art Books of 2020: “Samuel Fasso: Autoportrait,” the first comprehensive monograph of the West African photographer, and “Grief and Grievance: Art and Mourning in America (from Civil Rights to Black Lives Matter),” accompanying the New Museum exhibition opening in January. The following selections are among the positive outcomes of a challenging year. (Titles listed in order of publication date.):

 


“Working Together: Louis Draper and the Kamoinge Workshop,” Edited by Sarah Eckhardt, with a foreword by Alex Nyerges, preface by Deborah Willis, and contributions from Erina Duganne, Romi Crawford, John Edwin Mason, Bill Gaskins, and Sharayah Cochran (Duke University Press Books, 260 pages). | Published Feb. 14, 2020

 

1. “Working Together: Louis Draper and the Kamoinge Workshop”

This catalog was published to coincide with “Working Together: Louis Draper and the Kamoinge Workshop.” Organized by the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in Richmond, the exhibition is currently on view at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York. Richmond native Louis Draper helped bring together the New York City collective of Black photographers founded in 1963, with Roy DeCarava later serving as the group’s director. Similar to the exhibition, the publication is a veritable archive of Kamoinge, covering the first two decades with a focus on Draper and 14 of the collective’s early members, including Anthony Barboza, Adger Cowans, Herb Randall, Beauford Smith, Shawn Walker, and Ming Smith, the first woman to join the group. Reproductions of exhibition posters; group photos from Kamoinge’s annual dinners; hand-written notes and meeting minutes; Draper’s typewritten drafts and published summaries about the collective; and The Black Photographer’s Annual, the group’s yearly portfolio of bound images, are among the many items included. Their Portfolio No. 1, published in 1964, plainly states: “The Kamoinge Workshop represents fifteen black photographers whose creative objectives reflect a concern for truth about the world, about the society, and about themselves.” The volume is rife with images throughout, interspersed with a selection of essays. A section of catalog plates (about 130 pages) is dedicated to individual black-and-white photographs by the artists.

 


“Mark Bradford: End Papers,” by Michael Auping (Prestel, 124 pages). | Published Feb. 26, 2020

 

2. “Mark Bradford: End Papers”

In the 1990s, Mark Bradford was a student at the California Institute of Art when he began making collage paintings with end papers. Combining his experience styling hair in his mother’s salon, his formal training in art school, and a desire to work with everyday materials, he used the small, tissue-thin papers to realize abstract works defined by translucence, layered patterns, and irregular grids. His process involves dying the papers and singing their edges. A conversation between Los Angeles-based Bradford and curator Michael Auping gives insight to the early foundations of the artist’s practice and the practical and aesthetic benefits of “painting” with end papers. He has never abandoned the motif, invoking it recently in large-scale paintings for his solo exhibition in the U.S. Pavilion at the 57th Venice Biennale (2017). The lavishly illustrated catalog accompanies “Mark Bradford: End Papers,” an exhibition at the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth in Texas.

 


“Riffs and Relations: African American Artists and the European Modernist Tradition,” by Adrienne L. Childs, with contributions from Renee Maurer and Valerie Cassel Oliver (Rizzoli Electa, $208 pages). | Published March 3, 2020

 

3. “Riffs and Relations: African American Artists and the European Modernist Tradition”

The galleries of The Phillips Collection in Washington, D.C., are buzzing with conversations across cultures, generations, and international borders—bringing African American artists together with European modernists. Engagements between Mickalene Thomas and Edouard Manet; and among William H. Johnson, Faith Ringgold, and Mequitta Ahuja and Pablo Picasso; and Emma Amos, Janet Taylor Pickett, and Hank Willis Thomas and Henri Matisse, are on view. Works by Lois Mailou Jones and John Edmonds give a nod to Man Ray. Works by Hale Woodruff and Wangechi Mutu reference Paul Cezanne and Constantin Brancusi, respectively. These connections and influences are documented in this volume, published to accompany “Riffs and Relations: African American Artists and the European Modernist Tradition.” Adrienne L. Childs edited the catalog and guest curated the exhibition. She is the first Black person to organize an exhibition at the Phillips Collection. Childs authored three essays in the fully illustrated volume and is also in conversation with Valerie Cassel Oliver about some of the Black artists represented in the show who are focused on abstraction, including Alma Thomas, Jennie C. Jones, Moe Brooker, Felrath Hines, and Leonardo Drew.

 

“Many African American artists mine the master narratives of art history to find inspiration, pose questions, mount a critique, or claim a place of their own. The push and pull of this relationship has engendered a distinct tradition in black diasporic practice.” — Adrienne L. Childs

 


“Jordan Casteel: Within Reach,” Edited by Massimiliano Gioni, with a foreword by Lisa Phillips, and contributions from Amanda Hunt, Dawoud Bey, Thelma Golden, and Lauren Haynes (New Museum, 140 pages). | Published April 14, 2020

 

4. “Jordan Casteel: Within Reach”

Jordan Casteel paints portraits that reveal the complexity and humanity of her subjects. This catalog was published to accompany “Jordan Casteel: Within Reach” at the New Museum, her first solo museum exhibition in New York. The large-format volume features page-after-page of full-color images of individual works in the show—portraits of young Black men with radiantly colored skin in hues of blue, violet, and green, portraits of people she’s met in Harlem, and more recent portraits of her students at Rutgers University. Casteel shifted the focus of her portraiture when she was an artist-in-residence (AIR) at the Studio Museum in Harlem (2015-16), finding inspiration in representing people from the neighborhood. Those influences are brought to bear in this catalog. Both Massimiliano Gioni, exhibition curator and artistic director of the New Museum, and Studio Museum Director and Chief Curator Thelma Golden engage in conversations with the artist. Former Studio Museum curators Lauren Haynes and Amanda Hunt, who oversaw the AIR program during Casteel’s tenure, contribute writings, along with photographer Dawoud Bey. “Harlem, USA,” his first solo exhibition, was presented at the Studio Museum in 1979. Bey’s essay draws on parallels with Casteel’s work: “Having begun my own career as an artist some forty years earlier in the very streets in which she was now engaging the subjects of her work, I was drawn to her commitment to ordinary black people as both subject and source of her social and aesthetic investigations.”

 


“Samuel Fosso: Autoportrait,” Edited by Okwui Enwezor, with a foreword by Artur Walther, introduction by Jean Marc Patras, and contributions by Elvira Dyangani Ose, Yves Chatap, Chika Okeke-Agulu, Quentin Bajac, Claire Staebler, James Merle Thomas, Terry Smith, and Oluremi C. Onabanjo (Steidl/The Walther Collection, New York, 188 pages). | Published Aug. 11, 2020

 

5. “Samuel Fosso: Autoportrait”

One of the treasures Okwui Enwezor (1963-2019) left for us, “Samuel Fosso: Autoportrait” is the first comprehensive monograph of the singular photographer, known since the mid-1970s for his conceptual self portraits. Born in Cameroon, Fosso grew up in Nigeria, and developed his practice in the Central African Republic, where he is based today. The fully illustrated volume features new essays and scholarship contextualizing Fosso’s work and a conversation between the photographer and Enwezor. During the wide-ranging discussion about Fosso’s life and practice, the late curator asked about his “Tati” series, “which played with the ambiguity of gender and sexuality…” Fosso’s various other series have paid homage to his grandfather, a “native doctor” he lived with until he was about age 8; modeled a “70’s Lifestyle”; envisioned a “Black Pope”; depicted historic Black figures, including Nelson Mandela, Angela Davis, Malcolm X, and Martin Luther King Jr., in “African Spirits”; and addressed geopolitics with “Emperor of Africa,” a series of portraits representing Chairman Mao, the Communist leader and founding father of the People’s Republic of China.

 


“Tyler Mitchell: I Can Make You Feel Good,” With contributions by Tyler Mitchell, Isolde Brielmaier, Deborah Willis, and Hans Ulrich Obrist (Prestel, 208 pages). | Published Aug. 25, 2020

 

6. “Tyler Mitchell: I Can Make You Feel Good”

A bounty of images all of them full-page bleeds produced on matte finish pages, this publication is all about the pictures—photographs of joy, fun, freedom, fashion, leisure, moments of reflection, and time spent outdoors in the natural world. Complete with an orange ribbon bookmark, the volume is an introduction to the practice of Tyler Mitchell, 25. Published on the occasion of “Tyler Mitchell: I Can Make You Feel Good” at the International Center of Photography in New York, his first U.S. solo show, the volume showcases Mitchell’s focus on the power, presence, and visibility of his subjects. Mitchell grew up in Marietta, Ga., a suburb of Atlanta and is based in Brooklyn, N.Y. He became widely known recently when he photographed Beyoncé for the cover of American Vogue’s September 2018 fall fashion issue, making history as the first Black photographer to create the magazine’s cover. Just about 20 pages of the catalog contain text— highly readable and accessible reflections from Mitchell himself, an interview with the photographer conducted by Hans Ulrich Obrist, and insights from exhibition curator Isolde Brielmaier and Deborah Willis (one of his professors at New York University). Willis said she took note of Mitchell’s artistic and critical eye early on. She wrote: “I was fascinated with his work because I saw how deeply committed he was to understanding images and later changing existing visual narratives about being Black, male, creative, and young.”

 


“Noah Davis,” Edited by Helen Molesworth (David Zwirner Books, 176 pages). | Published Sept. 1, 2020

 

7. “Noah Davis”

Based on this volume, the consensus among those who knew Noah Davis (1983-2015) is that he was brilliant: A hardworking, talented painter, visionary institution builder, family and community-oriented, wise beyond his years, and hyped about life in general. Fittingly, his painting “Forty Acres and a Unicorn” (2007), graces the cover. It could easily be a self-portrait. Davis died at age 32, from a rare form of cancer, disrupting a narrative that was otherwise on the upswing. He co-founded, with his wife (artist Karon Davis) and older brother (filmmaker Kahlil Joseph), The Underground Museum in Los Angeles, with a mission to show museum-quality art in the Black and Brown LA neighborhood of Arlington Heights. He assembled a tight-knit community, including curator Helen Molesworth, who has helped guide his legacy. This long-awaited, generously illustrated monograph complements a major presentation of his work first on view at David Zwirner Gallery in New York (curated by Molesworth) with plans for a similar presentation at The Underground Museum. In the introduction, Molesworth wrote, “His paintings are both figurative and abstract, realistic and dreamlike; they are about blackness and the history of Western painting, drawn from photographs and from life; they are exuberant and doleful in their palette…They tend toward the ravishing.” She conducts interviews with several people in Davis’s community, including Deana Lawson, Thomas Houseago, Daniel Desure, and Henry Taylor, who each discuss the artist and their relationship with him and his work. “He always had the floor. You know what I mean? If he joined the Panthers, he would have been Fred Hampton,” Taylor said. The conversations are interspersed with images of Davis’s paintings, including detail and installation views, along with archival photographs documenting the artist’s life. It’s a beautiful hardback book, covered with pale blue linen with page edges gilded in gold.

 

“He was a smart-ass kid, but a kid that I listened to. I took him more seriously than anybody. I was more attentive to him than anybody. I know a lot of artists. But being around Noah was something totally different.”
— Henry Taylor on Noah Davis

 


“Alison Saar: Of Aether and Earthe,” Edited by Irene Tsatsos and Rebecca McGrew, with a preface by Judith Tuch, foreword by Leslie Ito and Victoria Sancho Lobis, and contributions from Evie Shockley, Christina Sharpe, Camille T. Dungy, and Harryette Mullen (Benton Museum of Art at Pomona College, 164 pages). | Published Sept. 8, 2020

 

8. “Alison Saar: Of Aether and Earthe”

The first major monograph of Alison Saar explores four decades of work, spanning 1982 to 2020. Published to accompany an exhibition co-organized by the Benton Museum of Art at Pomona College in Claremont, Calif., and the Armory Center for the Arts in Pasadena, Calif., the volume includes a conversation between Saar and co-curator Irene Tsatsos. She opens by noting the artist has produced a lot of work, that her oeuvre is wide-ranging. She said as they were planning the show, it was “exciting yet daunting” to develop a through line. Los Angeles-based Saar replied in part: “All of my works run along similar tracks in terms of looking at the female body through the lens of gender politics and racial politics. What consistently crop up are the ties to nature. I’m really attuned to that; it’s always been crucial.” It’s a lovely volume, covered in marigold linen. Inside, matte-finish pages feature exceptional photography of her works—individual images, detail and installation views. The publication concludes with an autobiographical timeline illustrated with family photos (featuring her mother Betye Saar, sisters Lezley Saar and Stacye Saar, and the artist’s late father Richard Saar) many published for the first time.

 


“Young, Gifted and Black: A New Generation of Artists: The Lumpkin-Boccuzzi Family Collection of Contemporary Art,” Edited by Antwaun Sargent, with an introduction by Bernard I. Lumpkin, and contributions from Jessica Bell Brown and Thelma Golden (D.A.P., 256 pages). | Published Sept. 29, 2020

 

9. “Young, Gifted and Black: A New Generation of Artists: The Lumpkin-Boccuzzi Family Collection of Contemporary Art”

“Young, Gifted, and Black: A New Generation of Artists” showcases the growing contemporary art collection of Bernard I. Lumpkin and Carmine D. Boccuzzi. About a decade ago, after his father died, Lumpkin sharpened the focus of the family collection to artists of African descent, particularly younger emerging artists (such as Tunji Adeniyi-Jones, whose work graces the cover). “I saw that my role as a collector should be to help artists engage with, and educate, their communities,” Lumpkin wrote in the introduction. The mission is not just acquire work, but also share it with a wider community, loan it to museums, and provide related institutional support. The handsomely designed, fully illustrated volume is edited by Antwaun Sargent. Both he and Jessica Bell Brown contribute essays. A conversation between Lumpkin and Studio Museum in Harlem Director and Chief Curator Thelma Golden is also featured. (Lumpkin is a trustee of the museum and member of its acquisitions committee.) The volume centers around about 170 pages dedicated to the artists, an alpha-organized section illustrating their work(s) with brief accompanying writings by an impressive group of curators. Some artists, including Jordan Casteel, Jonathan Lyndon Chase, Christina Quarles, Samuel Levi Jones, Deana Lawson, Eric N. Mack, Troy Michie, Paul Mpagi Sepuya, Sable Elyse Smith, and D’Angelo Lovell Williams, also contributed, sharing insights about their own work. The volume coincides with a national traveling exhibition that opened in 2019 at Silas Gallery at Concordia College in Bronxville, N.Y., and is scheduled to travel to at least four additional university galleries.

 

“I wanted to focus on younger artists who were confronting the realities of power, politics, and injustice in their work.” — Bernard I. Lumpiin

 


“Ming Smith: An Aperture Monograph,” With a foreword by Alan Govenar, and contributions from Emmanuel Iduma, Janet Hill Talbert, M. Neelika Jayawardane, Namwali Serpell, Greg Tate, Arthur Jafa, Hans Ulrich Obrist, and Yxta Maya Murray (Aperture, 236 pages). | Published Nov. 10, 2020

 

10. “Ming Smith: An Aperture Monograph”

Photographer Ming Smith was born in Detroit, grew up in Columbus, Ohio, graduated from Howard University in Washington, D.C., and has spent her career in New York City. She is best known for being the first female member of the Kamoinge Workshop, a collective of Black photographers in New York; the first Black woman to have her work acquired by the Museum of Modern Art in 1979; and several artistic techniques in which she tints, paints, collages, double exposes, and blurs her images. This much-anticipated monograph fills in the details, providing a fuller account of her life and practice over four decades through essays; two conversations with Smith conducted by Janet Hill Talbert and Hans Ulrich Obrist; a dialogue between Arthur Jafa and Greg Tate about the “presence of music and sound” in her work; and a compelling array of Smith’s images, many of them spreads and full-page bleeds.

 


“Black Futures,” Edited by Kimberly Drew and Jenna Wortham (One World, 544 pages). | Published Dec. 1, 2020

 

11. “Black Futures”

“Black Futures” attempts to answer the question, “What does it mean to be Black and alive right now?” Editors Kimberly Drew and Jenna Wortham have responded to their own query with an exuberant volume. Although it is a printed book, it feels of the moment, a living collection of images, screenshots, memes, lots of art, many conversations, and all kinds of writings, including original essays. Divided into 10 sections, including Black Lives Matter, Power, Joy, Justice, Memory, Black is (Still) Beautiful, and Legacy, the spectrum of content addresses everything from self-care, African American names, barbershops, and trans visibility to police murder and Flint water. Facebook screenshots from July 2013 when Alicia Garza first made reference to the term Black Lives Matter are featured in the opening pages. Hank Willis Thomas’s “Black Survival Guide” is included. Recipes for fried pig ears and Auntie Yvonne’s coconut bread are shared. Jasmine Johnson revisits Chance the Rapper’s #OptimisticChallenge. Errin Haines writes about the Colored Girls Museum in Philadelphia. Wesley Morris reflects on the Obama portraits. Nikole Hannah Jones shares images from the Black Genius Joint she threw with Ta-Nehisi Coates. Hundreds of creators are represented, including Nina Chanel Abney, Firelei Báez, Alexandra Bell, Jonathan Lyndon Chase, Aria Dean, Eve L. Ewing, Lauren Halsey, Juliana Huxtable, Lauren Kelley, Deana Lawson, Thomas J. Lax, Kerry James Marshall, Zanele Muholi, Renée Mussai, Toyin Ojih Odutola, Deborah Roberts, Cameron Rowland, Tschabalala Self, Cauleen Smith, Danez Smith, Zadie Smith, Tourmaline, Kara Walker, Amanda Williams, Raquel Willis, and Lynette Yiadom-Boakye. Each entry functions like a blog post, with related entries cited at the bottom of the page, pointing readers to additional content. In their introductory letter, the editors state: This book is a series of guideposts for current and future generations who may be curious about what our generation has been creating during [a] time defined by social, cultural, economic, and ecological revolution.”

 

“We have never been more empowered and yet, in many ways, are still disenfranchised. Social media has granted Black folks a platform to tell our own stories, but it has also made us subject to a new brand of surveillance and unprecedented co-option.” — Kimberly Drew and Jenna Wortham

 


“Bisa Butler: Portraits,” Edited by Erica Warren, with a foreword by James Rondeau, and contributions from Michéle Wije, Jordan Carter, Isabella Ko, and Bisa Butler (Art Institute of Chicago, 96 pages). | Published Dec. 8, 2020

 

12. “Bisa Butler: Portraits,”

This exhibition catalog documents “Bisa Butler: Portraits,” the artist’s first solo museum exhibition, co-organized by the Art Institute of Chicago and the Kantonah Museum of Art in Westchester County, N.Y.. Whether you describe her work as “Fabulating Blackness” or “Photography and Quiltmaking Transformed,” as the essay titles in this volume identify it, New Jersey-based Bisa Butler’s pictures reinvent portraiture. She paints with boldly colored, beautifully patterned, culturally significant textiles, piecing together powerful, layered depictions of her subjects. Her portraits are inspired primarily by early 20th century black-and-white photography by Dorothea Lange and Farm Security Administration photographer Russell Lee, for example. Butler depicts historic figures and also interprets old family photos. “Les Sapeurs” references a rare contemporary source, an image by Daniele Tamagni from his 2009 series the Gentlemen of Bacongo. What sets this fully illustrated volume apart is the detailed backstories provided for each of the 21 works included in the show, many of them written by Butler herself. We learn “The Princess” (2018), which is featured on the cover, portrays one of her “oldest and dearest” friends when she was six-years-old and about to emigrate from Jamaica to the United States. The uncertainty of the journey to “a potentially unwelcoming new environment” is evident in her facial expression.

 


“Lynette Yiadom-Boakye: Fly In League With The Night,” Edited by Isabella Maidment and Andrea Schlieker, with contributions from Elizabeth Alexander and Lynette Yiadom-Boakye (D.A.P./Tate, 192 pages). | Published Dec. 8, 2020

 

13. “Lynette Yiadom-Boakye: Fly In League With The Night”

Lynette Yiadom-Boakye paints arresting portraits of fictional subjects—composite characters drawn from found imagery and her imagination. This exhibition catalog accompanies “Lynette Yiadom-Boakye: Fly In League With The Night” at Tate Britain in London. The first major survey of the British artist features about 80 paintings and several works on paper. Full-color images are generously spread throughout the volume, which includes essays by exhibition co-curators Isabella Maidment and Andrea Schlieker. Yiadom-Boakye, who has said “The things I can’t paint, I write, and the things I can’t write, I paint,” contributes new writing (“Five Extracts from A Detective Novel Entitled ‘An Officer Of The Law’ and Some Intermittent Notes On Criminality”). Poet Elizabeth Alexander connects Yiadom-Boakye’s paintings to the dark expanses of the ocean: “With any writer or painter of the African diaspora, I think the ocean is somewhere in their work, even if it is not the subject.…If a subject or not, the ocean, the middle passage, that blackness is always there, I feel. These paintings…are of the ocean in her deep understanding of darkness, danger, mystery and colour.”

 


“Elijah Pierce’s America,” Edited by Nancy Ireson and Zoé Whitley, with a foreword by Thom Collins, and contributions from Michael D. Hall, Sampada Aranke, Theaster Gates, and Amalia Wojciechowski (Paul Holberton Publishing, 208 pages). | Published Dec. 11, 2020

 

14. “Elijah Pierce’s America”

This fully illustrated volume was published on the occasion of “Elijah Pierce’s America” at the Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia. Elijah Pierce (1892-1984) was a storyteller. Born on a plantation in Baldwyn, Miss., by 1923 he was living in Columbus, Ohio, where he owned a barbershop and was a preacher. In his spare time, he carved wood. For years, it never occurred to him that his creations were art. In their opening essay co-curators Nancy Ireson and Zoé Whitley note that Pierce told a journalist that he “didn’t even know [he] was an ‘artist’ until they told me.” A circa 1933 portrait, “Love (Martin Luther King, Jr.),” covers the exhibition catalog. His wood carvings—elaborate, detailed, and painted—speak to American political and cultural history (the Kennedys, Abraham Lincoln, Lena Horne, Mr. and Mrs. Hank Aaron), sports, the animal kingdom, the quotidian (Girl Scouts, a doll house, the Masons, a layered compote), and gossip (“Three Ways to Send a Message: Telephone, Telegram, Tell-a-Woman,” circa 1941, and “Monday Morning Gossip,” 1934). Made four decades apart, works featuring an individual female subject with her right arm raised high in the air depict the Statue of Liberty (1973) and Harriet Tubman (“Spreading the Light,” 1933). His carvings are also autobiographical and illustrate numerous biblical narratives and religious subjects. Previously presented in museums in the context of folk or self-taught art, this show and catalog reconsider his work in relation to mainstream art histories. The curators wrote: “…to place Pierce’s carvings in proximity to the Barnes Foundation’s collection—rich in works by the best-known artists of the early twentieth century—is to show the artist in a different light.”

 


“Grief and Grievance: Art and Mourning in America (from Civil Rights to Black Lives Matter),” Edited by Okwui Enwezor, Naomi Beckwith, Massimiliano Gioni, Glenn Ligon, and Mark Nash, with contributions from Judith Butler, Claudia Rankine, Juliet Hooker, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Elizabeth Alexander, Christina Sharpe, and Saidiya Hartman, and a publishing note and afterword by Lisa Phillips (Phaidon Press, 264 pages). | Published Dec. 16, 2020

 

15. “Grief and Grievance: Art and Mourning in America (from Civil Rights to Black Lives Matter)”

Before he died, Okwui Enwezor (1963-2019) was planning a sweeping survey of 37 Black contemporary artists with loss and mourning in the wake of racial violence as their subject, a prescient and timely exhibition intended to open in October 2020, prior to the Presidential election. Taking up his work and finalizing the organization of “Grief and Grieving: Art and Mourning in America (from Civil Rights to Black Lives Matter)” in his absence, must have been a meta experience. Enwezor left a deep bench that pulled the forthcoming exhibition together (ultimately delayed to January 2021 due to COVID-19) and completed the accompanying catalog. He envisioned a show that responded to the racial division in contemporary politics that has been strategically fomented by Donald Trump. In the catalog’s opening statement, Enwezor wrote: “The crystallization of Black grief in the face of a politically orchestrated white grievance represents the fulcrum of this exhibition.” The show features an intergenerational group of artists working across mediums, including Terry Adkins, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Dawoud Bey, Mark Bradford, Garrett Bradley, Melvin Edwards, LaToya Ruby Frazier, Ellen Gallagher, Arthur Jafa, Daniel LaRue Johnson, Simone Leigh, Glenn Ligon, Kerry James Marshall, Tiona Nekkia McClodden, Adam Pendleton, Howardena Pindell, Cameron Rowland, Henry Taylor, Carrie Mae Weems, and Jack Whitten. While he was developing the exhibition, Enwezor asked Ligon to serve as an advisor. Upon the curator’s death, an advisory team was formed to realize the show Enwezor conceived, including Ligon, Mark Nash, and Naomi Beckwith, with support from New Museum Artistic Director Massimiliano Gioni. Each authored essays in the fully illustrated catalog, which also includes contributions from some of the most prominent voices in the national discourse on race and American culture—Claudia Rankine, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Elizabeth Alexander, Christina Sharpe, and Saidiya Hartman. CT

 

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