Archive for the ‘Black Power’ Category

Soul of a Nation review the extraordinary art of the black power era – The Guardian

Icon for My Man Superman (Superman Never Saved any Black People Bobby Seale), 1969 by Barkley Hendricks. Photograph: Barkley L Hendricks; courtesy of the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York

A man with shades and a perfectly picked afro stands against a flat silver background. He is dressed in a Superman T-shirt. His muscular arms are folded in a painting as sharply defined as a medieval icon, yet as modern as his aviator shades. The canvas, from 1969, is highly stylised and irreducibly cool.

This is the self-portrait of Barkley L Hendricks, who died in April at the age of 72. Its visual double take black man in white mans costume, and in his painterly tradition is multiplied by the mordant title. Icon for My Man Superman (Superman Never Saved Any Black People Bobby Seale) quotes a famous remark of the founder of the Black Panthers. But Hendricks has no need of Superman. He saves himself hero of his own fiercely intelligent painting.

This show is angry, zestful, ebullient, sardonic, wildly energetic, powerfully direct, occasionally sorrowful

If Hendricks is a new name at Tate Modern, he is by no means alone. Nine-tenths of the cast list may well be unfamiliar. Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power covers 20 years of black art, beginning with the 1963 March on Washington and the inauguration of the Spiral group in New York. This artists collective formed specifically to ask what black art could, or should, be. These two questions which are by no means the same get different answers all through this fantastically dynamic show.

Spiral decided to work only in black and white, allowing for all the politics of contrast. Some believed in unadulterated rhetoric clashes and protests, news images of violence enlarged or adapted. Reginald Gammons Freedom Now simply shows black figures marching straight towards you, placards barely cropped by the frame: a head-on confrontation in itself.

But directly opposite, and strategically placed, is a tremendous painting by Norman Lewis. Lewis was an abstract expressionist, and at first sight his black-and-white canvas appears entirely abstract arrays of geometric white shapes flickering against sepulchral darkness. It is only after your eyes adjust to the visual dissonance that the true subject of the painting emerges: these are the triangular hoods of Klansmen gathering by night with their torches and flaming crosses. This is the terrifying sight of whiteness.

It is perhaps no surprise that Spiral mounted only one joint exhibition. Black artists could not agree on what they should exhibit. Alvin Loving, the first African American artist to have a solo survey at the Whitney Museum, showed hard-edge geometric abstractions there in 1969. The critics loved them, but Lovings fellow black artists scourged him for bowing to the white art scene. He returned to the studio, cut up his canvases and made a completely new kind of art from the fragments, somewhere between collage and political banner.

The spirit of protest keeps exact pace with the times. Melvin Edwardss devastating Lynch Fragments, dark and knotted sculptures formed out of hooks and manacles, speak directly to Klan murders in the early 60s. Noah Purifoys bristling totems, conjuring nameless violence, are fashioned out of garbage from the LA streets following the 1965 Watts riots. Dana Chandlers lime green door, riddled with bullet holes, commemorates the gunning down of a young Black Panther activist named Fred Hampton in his Chicago apartment in 1969.

Prints of Chandlers door were distributed as a reminder of police brutality through the Black Panther newspaper. Back copies at Tate Modern show the art of Emory Douglas in all its graphic zip and register. Revolutionaries preach international solidarity, workers rights and black freedom. In the spectacles of a poor black kid the free breakfasts of the future are reflected. An armed Panther wearing a Self-Defence badge appears in printers Benday dots, a neat (and early) pastiche of Roy Lichtenstein; putting some politics into pop.

Some of the art here doesnt really care too much about appearances. This is especially the case with the evolving pantheon of black heroes, including some pretty crude portraits of James Baldwin and Malcolm X in eye-popping DayGlo. The Wall of Respect in Chicago, a high-profile mural on an abandoned South Side building, seems to have set the tone. This influential project was established in 1967 by the Organisation of Black American Culture to celebrate its stars (and the arguments about who should be included are well documented in a section of this show). But you cant easily recognise Aretha, Smokey and Ornette in the wilfully awkward portraits the way you can immediately hear their music in your head.

If this show had a soundtrack, it would feature all of these musicians and many others depicted here, from John Coltrane to Elaine Brown and Marvin Gaye. Barkley Hendrickss painting Whats Going On an immaculately suave painting of four black men in white suits against a white background, throwing intense focus on their pensive faces pays tribute to Gayes song. And it somehow gets directly into that moment where black protest songs turned into hip commodities. Whats Going On was written in response to police brutality during anti-war protests in Berkeley, but it soon lost that grim association. The song was the fastest-selling Motown single of the time.

Barkley, ever the ironist, also offers easily the most startling painting in this show of himself, naked but for his socks and hat, one hand directing attention to his resplendent genitals. It is a painted retort to a review in 1976 by the imperious New York Times art critic Hilton Kramer, who had described him unconsciously dealing in racial stereotypes as far too slick if brilliantly endowed.

This is a riveting show angry, zestful, ebullient, sardonic, wildly energetic, powerfully direct, occasionally sorrowful and tentative. Even its failures and there are plenty of mediocre works that strive for nothing except blatant public address, from the dreadlock tapestry to the op-art Malcolm X have their historic resonance. But the question irresistibly presents itself, in the end: is the impact more political or aesthetic? Does the choice of form or medium feel secondary?

Some of this art has nothing to do with black rights at all. It is marvellous to see an abstract painting by Alma Thomas, for instance, a gorgeous lattice of red against voluminous blue entitled Mars Dust (the artist had been following Nasas failed 1971 mission to Mars). And some of it wants to be free of race issues altogether.

Martin Puryears Self is a tragic hump of a sculpture. A strange new form, somewhere between mountain, lump and thumb, the height of the artist but inscrutable and stately, it is an unforgettable masterpiece. Made of carved and polished wood, but hollow when you knock it, this is a singular metaphor a mysterious self-portrait, all its secrets held within, as the outer form so beautifully implies. On the other hand, it is painted black.

Puryear, who has a show at Londons Parasol Unit in September, is one of the giants of this show. So is the conceptual artist David Hammons, whose coruscating body prints a black figure with various props on a black ground include the punningly titled Three Spades. But still there are artists here whose work is all but invisible in Britain, as if the discrimination never ends.

Perhaps the biggest revelation is the nonagenarian artist Betye Saar. She hits the nail every time. Her most unforgettable work is a metronome (a nod to Man Ray) with a tiny blackened corpse attached to the needle. Glued to the open lid of the instrument is a newspaper cutting about a black man lynched for refusing to dance to a whites man tune. The object both embodies and expresses the full horror: the corpse will have to keep time for ever, yet the metronome also acts as a reliquary, a tiny coffin commemorating the dead man. Its epigrammatic title is Ive Got Rhythm.

Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power is at Tate Modern, London, until 22 October

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Soul of a Nation review the extraordinary art of the black power era – The Guardian

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July 17, 2017   Posted in: Black Power  Comments Closed

Black Power art show opens in London – euronews

A new exhibition of the art that came out of the American Civil Rights movement as well as the politics of black identity has opened at Londons iconic Tate modern museum.

Called Soul of a Nation: the art of Black Power, it examines the triumphs and tragedies of the civil right movement in the US from the 1960s to the 1980s.

What are the limits or expansiveness of a question or a subject area like Black Art, is that theres not one answer to the question we use this exhibition and were led by the artists, and used each artist and let them tell their version of the answer to that question, or allowed them to reject the question, Zoe Whitley, the co-curator of the exhibition said.

Black Power was a rallying cry for African American pride, autonomy and solidarity, drawing inspiration from newly independent African nations.

Some of the works presented featured some key black figures, who used their platform to speak out against injustices faced by black people at the height of the civil rights movement.

The show runs until October the twenty second.

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A new exhibition is exploring art in the age of Black Power – Konbini – Konbini US

Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power is a ground-breaking exhibition at the Tate Modernin London, UK, which aimsto shine a spotlight on the work of black artists active inAmerica in the two decades after 1963.

Benny Anders, ‘Did the Bear Sit Under a Tree?’, (1969), Emmanuel Collection, Estate of Benny Andrews/DACS, London/VAGA, NY2017 (Photo: Tate Modern)

Spanning across12 rooms, the exhibition takes visitors from Chicago to Los Angeles, in a showcase ofthe work of artists using avariety of mediums to question what it means to be black in America. The show draws attention to the dilemmas facing Black artists at the time, said curators Zoe Whitely and Mark Godfrey:

“How should an artist respond to political and cultural changes? Was there a Black art or a Black aesthetic? Should an artist create legible images or make abstract work? []

The exhibition looks at responses to such questions with each room devoted to groups of artists in cities nationwide, or to different kinds of art. While showing strong communities and robust artistic dialogues, it also reveals necessary disagreements about what it meant to be a Black artist at this time.”

Frances Morris, the director of the Tate Modern, called the exhibition a “turning point” for the gallery. It comes as part of a wider effort to expand their collection and focus on artwork from areas of the world and movements that had previously been overlooked.

Emma Amos, ‘Eva the Babysitter’, (1973), Emma Amos. Courtesy of the artist and Ryan Lee Gallery, New York. Licensed by VAGA, New York (Photo: Tate Modern)

The artwork is thrilling in its breadth, and visually stunning: colorful murals, magazines, photographs, collages,paintings and sculptures by both lesser and well-known artists make up the collection.

Soul of a Nationis an embodiment ofthe spirit of the age, emerging from themidst of the Civil Rights era, the thrilling militancy of the Black Power movement, growing interactions with the black diaspora and streams of thoughtcoming out of newly independent African nations. Iconic Black figuressuch as Angela Davis, John Coltrane, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King feature prominently.

A number of events will be taking place alongsidewith the exhibition.Some of the best include a sold-out talk with director Spike Lee on July 12 about the art that influenced his career, an evening of art, debate and music co-hosted by AFROPUNK on July 20 and a discussion with award-winning poet Claudia Rankine on October 12.

Faith Ringgold, ‘American People Series #20: Die’ (1967), The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Purchase; and gift of the Modern Women’s Fund, Faith Ringgold (Photo: Tate Modern)

Betye Saar, ‘Rainbow Mojo’, (1972), Paul-Michael diMeglio, New York, Betye Saar. Courtesy of the Artist and Rober & Tilton, Los Angeles, California (Photo: Tate Modern)

Barkley L. Hendricks, ‘Icon for My Man Superman (Superman Never Saved any Black People – Bobby Seale)’ (1969), Collection of Liz and Eric Lefkofsky, Barkley L. Hendricks. Courtesy of the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York (Photo: Tate Modern)

A playlist of songs about black empowerment was curated in response to the exhibition by Darcus Beese, the president of Island Records. Beese is the son of the British Black Panther activists Barbara Beese and Darcus Howe. Listen to the selected tracks below:

Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power is at Tate Modern in London from July 12 to October 22, 2017. The exhibition will move to the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Arkansas, February 3 to April 23, 2018 and then toBrooklyn Museum, on September 7 till February 3, 2019

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A new exhibition is exploring art in the age of Black Power – Konbini – Konbini US

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Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power, review – The Telegraph – Telegraph.co.uk

The Encounter at the National Portrait Gallery-review

The most powerful work in this section, Melvin Edwardss Curtain (for William and Peter), a screen of dangling barbed-wire with a fringe of chains is rather thrown away by being hung out of sight of the shows main drag and too close to the wall. If Edwardss claim that he used the wire simply as a linear material with kinks, rather than as a metaphor for, say, social incarceration, isnt quite believable, theres a sense in this section of artists with very diverse agendas that the show can only begin to start exploring who have had a socio-political role forced upon them by the need to band together as black artists simply to get their work seen.

A section on Black Heroes, meanwhile, has been included, you might cynically conclude, to bring in works by white artists Andy Warhol, with a late portrait of Muhammad Ali, and the voguish, but over-rated Alice Neel, with an image of painter Faith Ringgold. If were to have Warhol at all, why not his notorious Race Riot images of the early Sixties?

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Black Power founder Reitu Harris dies | Radio New Zealand News – Radio New Zealand

The founding president of the Black Power gang, Reitu Harris, has died.

Reitu Harris Photo: Supplied

In the 1970s, Mr Harris established the gang to help other Mori boys who had been in state care and were disconnected from their marae and iwi.

In the 1980s, he formed a political relationship with Rob Muldoon and Matiu Rata and was able to establish employment for people living in the city.

The Wellington chapter of Black Power took his body to the steps of Parliament yesterday and performed a haka to acknowledge Mr Harris’ relationships with politicians.

Reitu Harris’s body is carried to the steps of Parliament for a haka. Photo: Supplied

Black Power life member and friend Denis O’Reilly said, even though they were young and rebellious and committed offences, they were not criminals.

“He tried to give young people a notion of recovering their sense of Moridom.

“To an extent, his life’s work has been done. In the ’70s a lot of those young people didn’t know their marae or their hap or their iwi and if you ask this generation now, they do.”

Eugene Ryder of Black Power Wellington said Mr Harris was a hard worker and loved his children and mokopuna.

“He created a safe environment for us to live in and demonstrate that regardless of stature you could actually make a difference and he helped demonstrate leadership among people who struggled to find or receive leadership.”

Jarrod Gilbert, author of the book Patched: The History of New Zealand Gangs said Mr Harris had a great social conscience and fundamentally moulded the Black Power’s pro-society stance.

He said Mr Harris would not let Black Power members use they swastika symbol like the Mongrel Mob, because of what it symbolised.

“There are some incredibly positive elements to Rei Harris but he was still a gangster. He had to fight for his territory and he had to fight for his leadership position and he made no bones about it that dealing marijuana was a key component of the gang scene.

“He wasn’t a saint but within his realm he was a very significant figure and on balance, relative within the gang scene, he was an immensely positive force.”

Mr Harris was born in 1951. He passed away on Sunday and his funeral is expected to be held tomorrow at Rakeiao Marae in Rotoiti.

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Black Power founder Reitu Harris dies | Radio New Zealand News – Radio New Zealand

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Black Power founding president Reitu Harris dies – Stuff.co.nz

Last updated21:02, July 12 2017

ROSS SETFORD

Reitu Harris’ body was taken to Parliament’s steps on Tuesday to mark his relationship with politicians.

The man who established the Black Power gang in the 1970s, Reitu Harris, has died.

As the founding president Harris created the gang to help Mori boys who had been in state care, and were disconnected from their marae and iwi, RNZ reported.

In the 1980s he established political connections with Robert Muldoon and Matiu Rata, and helped create employment for people living in the city.

SUPPLIED/FACEBOOK

The founding president of the gang died on Sunday, July 9.

Black Power life member and friend DenisO’Reillytold RNZ, even though they were young and rebellious and committed offences, they were not criminals.

READ MORE: *Wedding picture with Black Power gang leaves couple with special memory *Get the gang round for a movie: Black Power holds a film festival in Wellington *Mongrel Mob members run out of petrol, unwittingly knock on door of rival gang for help

“He tried to give young people a notion of recovering their sense ofMoridom.

“To an extent, his life’s work has been done. In the ’70s a lot of those young people didn’t know their marae or theirhapor their iwi and if you ask this generation now, they do.”

Harris worked hard and loved his whanau, Eugene Ryder, a Black Power member in Wellington said.

“He created a safe environment for us to live in and demonstrate that regardless of stature you could actually make a difference and he helped demonstrate leadership among people who struggled to find or receive leadership.”

The Wellington chapter of Black Power took his body to the steps of Parliament on Tuesday and performed a haka to acknowledge Harris’ relationships with politicians.

Harris’ died on Sunday and his funeral is expected to be held on Thursday at Rakeiao Marae in Rotoiti.

-Stuff

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Black Power in the art market; Saatchi’s new dealer show; a $10 million Masterpiece sale – Telegraph.co.uk

On the invitation card to Tate Moderns Art in the Age of Black Power, which opens this week, is a 1966 self-portrait by Barkley L Hendricks, then aged 21, wearing just his shades and a Superman t-shirt. Like most African American artists, Hendricks had a completely marginal position in the market during the period covered by the exhibition (1963-1983), and for years after.

But when he began exhibiting with the trail-blazing Jack Shainman Gallery in New York in 2005, he began to attract attention, starring in the Nasher Museums The Birth of the Coolexhibition (2008), and at New Yorks Swann Galleries auctions of African American art, where his top price rose from $10,000in 2008 to $365,000 in 2015.

Then, just after he died earlier this year, his market shifted up another gear when three of his paintings broke the record at Sothebys selling for up to $960,500(741,500)for The Way You Look Tonight, a four-foot self-portrait inspired by Renaissance portraits he had seen at the Uffizi in Florence.

Although he has only three works in this encyclopaedic show, the choice of Hendricks for the invitation card is significant because it acknowledges the tectonic shift that has been taking place in the market for black American artists.

The Saatchi Gallery in Chelsea opens a new exhibition today where it collaborates with dealerToby Clarke of the Vigo galleryto show and sell work by the Belgian painter Bram Bogart. The artist, who died in 2012, is best known for the thick licks of brightly coloured paint that comprised his canvases. This exhibition consists of the least-known of his works, pure white paintings; thus the title of the show, Witte de Witte. Prices will range from 37,000 to 105,000.

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‘False Black Power?’ More Black Elected Leaders Hasn’t Paid Off – Newsmax

The strategy of electing more black Americans to increase the political power of African Americans has not paid off, Jason L. Riley, author of the new book “False Black Power?” told Newsmax TV.

“Since the 1960s the civil rights leadership has put in place a strategy of emphasizing heavily the election of more black officials,” Riley told host Steve Malzberg. “The thinking is, if we can put more blacks in elected office, the social economic gains would flow naturally from that.

“I thought the Obama presidency was really the culmination of this strategy . . . [But] there were a lot of black elected officials before Obama. They weren’t president, but they were mayors, they were governors, they were congressmen, they were school superintendents, and police chiefs . . .

“From that experience we . . . should’ve tempered our expectations as to what black political leadership could do,because in many of those cases, the black poor were worse off. And so we saw this pattern again in many cases with the Obama presidency where racial gaps, and home ownership, and income, and poverty all widened.”

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What is the answer?

“In the first half of the 20th century, coming out of slavery through reconstruction and Jim Crow, the emphasis was on building human capital, on developing culturally, education, evolving, and developing the right habits and attitudes, and behavior, and values that other groups in America had developed on their rise from poverty to prosperity,” he said.

“That’s where blacks were focused on in the 1920s and 30s and 40s. And when they were focused on that, we saw racial gaps closing in this country. Gaps in income, gaps in home ownership, gaps in employment, gaps in blacks entering the skilled white-collared professions. Slow but steady progress.”

But in the second half of the 20th century, Riley told Malzberg, black leadership shifted to a political strategy during which the steady progress slowed to a crawl and “even reverse course.”

“We talk a lot today of the black left does, or the left in general, about the legacy of slavery or the legacy of Jim Crow explaining these racial gaps, this racial inequality today,” said Riley, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute.

“I think we would do better to be talking about the legacy of the great society. The legacy of the huge expansion of the welfare state. I think that much better explains what we see going on today.”

“False Black Power?” published by Templeton Press, is part of its “New Threats to Freedom Series.”

2017 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

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‘The ghetto is the gallery’: black power and the artists who captured the soul of the struggle – The Guardian

All of these slogans are utopian phrases Lorraine OGradys Rivers, First Draft: A Little Girl with Pink Sash Memorizes her Latin Lesson. Photograph: 2017 Lorraine OGrady/Artists Rights Society, New York

Can the soul of a nation be defined by artists of its most oppressed group? Thats the ambitious goal of Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power, about to open at Londons Tate Modern. Through 150 artworks and more than 60 artists, the show aims to represent the United States ethical, conscious and moral spirit its soul through exhibits made by (and about) people who historically had less life, less liberty, and less wealth than their fellow white citizens.

Framing the show from 1963 to 1983, the curators were led by how artists of the time were responding to Martin Luther Kings mission and the rising, more militant black power movement. So the exhibition encompasses a wide variety of works of black subjects and/or created by black artists, from the depictions of protest and music in Roy DeCaravas stunning black-and-white photographs (Mississippi Freedom Marcher, Washington, DC, and Coltrane on Soprano, New York, both 1963) to an afro-wearing, bespectacled brother crossing his arms against a grey background, as well as a red, white and blue frame in Barkley L Hendricks 1969 work Icon for My Man Superman (Superman Never Saved Any Black People Bobby Seale).

In those two decades, people who were artists, activists, and both, did a great deal to mark blackness as an identity: the Black Panthers organised to stop police brutality, while also creating free breakfast and community medical programmes; Nina Simone released To Be Young, Gifted and Black; and Tommie Smith and John Carlos raised black power fists at the 1968 Olympics. And during these years, artists such as Lorraine OGrady were asking: what is art, who is it for? Taking their work to the streets to insist, as William T Williams put it, that art need not be in a temple. Art could be everywhere.

In a white walled room of the Alexander Gray Gallery in New York, Melvin Edwards, now in his 80s, is remembering what it was like to be among the first African American sculptors to display large-scale works in such venues as Manhattans Whitney Museum of American Art. On the wall are three of his Lynch Fragments, a series of sculptures, decades in the making, that will feature in the Tate show.

Eeach Lynch Fragment is unique yet in conversation with the others. The small sculptures contain various recognisable items: a hammer, a link of chains, a knife blade. On their own, they convey a sense of dread but, when put together, the sense of violence is hugely amplified. Tate will show Some Bright Morning, a 1963 fragment named after an African American community that was threatened with the phrase: If you people dont behave, some bright morning were going to come and take care of you.

While the protrusions conjure up images of enslavement, Edwards wants people to think beyond literal chains, since they only really existed symbolically. Most slaves never were chained, he says. Youve got 500 slaves and youve got to make a set of chains for each one? The owner wouldnt have wanted to spend that much money. And theyre going to be able to do about a tenth of the work dragging these chains. They were restrained in other ways.

Much of his work like Curtain (for William and Pete) is more abstract. When he was starting out, Edwards rejected how the art world said art for arts sake. I said no, art could be for any sake and that doesnt limit the experimental aspect of the way I work. He dismisses the idea that abstraction was new with Picasso in the 20th century, because humans have been using geometry, abstraction and direct representation as long as weve walked the earth. Similarly, he says, the black arts movement started whenever black people started a couple of hundred thousand years ago.

From the mahogany of Elizabeth Cattletts Black Unity fist to the screaming purples and pinks of Wadsworth Jarrels Revolutionary and the crisp, horrifying representations of mutilated black and white men, women and children in Faith Ringgolds American People Series #20: Die, Soul of a Nation showcases the range of styles black artists of this era employed.

As Bull Connor sent in the dogs, little girls were blown up in a church, and Malcolm and Martin were assassinated, did black art need to directly and urgently respond? Could abstract work be relevant to a black America in crisis? Edwards never bought the idea that figurative paintings might be dealing with the realities of the world in a way that abstract work was not. He recalls creating the Smokehouse murals, a series of geometric murals made in neglected parts of Harlem, with William T Williams, Guy Ciarcia and Billy Rose. We painted our work to change the place, not to put messages on the walls to tell people whats wrong and what to change.

Williams, his fellow muralist, was involved in many of the eras great black moments. He marched on Washington with the 1199 healthcare workers union, because he was from a generation of young optimists who believed that things could change, that organising was important, that collective voices were more important than a single voice. He recalls this great mass of humanity and the atmosphere of celebration even though it was a protest march.

Emory Douglas, minister of culture for the Black Panthers, once said: The ghetto itself is the gallery. Williams put this idea into practice when he established the pioneering artist-in-residence programme at the Studio Museum in Harlem, with the idea of an artist living in a community, using his or her skills or insights, inspiring young artists, being inspired by the community and showing and creating in the community.

All of which was perfectly captured in Lorraine OGradys landmark 1983 work Art Is , which stretched for seven miles through Harlem during the African American Day parade. She collected more than 400 photos of parade viewers being framed by gold frames held by participants, as well as views through a huge gold frame shed mounted on a float putting Harlem itself into focus as it passed by.

The concept was that, as people were being framed, they were being acknowledged as art in themselves, OGrady says, in her studio in New Yorks Westbeth artist community. She chose not to do Art Is… at the more flamboyant West Indian Day parade, as she wanted to show that black people in everyday dress not just flamboyant costumes were art.

OGrady doesnt have a strong relationship with the phrase black power. All of these slogans, she says, are utopian phrases. Theres nothing wrong with them. They enable the kind of activity that has to take place for things to change. But the phrase didnt indicate that there was real black power except self-empowerment.

Soul of a Nation will occupy 12 rooms, from Art in the Streets (which includes We Shall Survive Without a Doubt by Emory Douglas) to Black Heroes (which pairs Hendricks Superman with a red and green Andy Warhol silkscreen of Muhammad Ali). There will be an entire room dedicated to the Chicago-based collective AfriCOBRA, which stood for African Commune of Bad Relevant Artists. Keen for their work to be accessible, they made poster art designed for mass production.[5].

The first room, though, is dedicated to Spiral, an arts alliance that flourished in the early 1960s and consisted of one woman, Emma Amos, and 14 older men, all committed to using their talents in the cause of civil rights. I think Spiral were announcing talent, says OGrady, whose work closes the show. Black artists right to be heard. And my piece, Art Is, was much more about who art can be made by, who should be addressed by art, who should be participating both as audience and markers and evaluators of art.

If Soul of a Nation begins at the moment the identity of negro gave way to black, it ends as black gives way to African American during the Reagan 80s around the time Black Panther co-founder Bobby Seale began selling BBQs. But, as the show opens, black is back because of the #BlackLivesMatter movement, and because of a rising sense of transnational blackness that cannot be contained by the nationalist identity of African American.

One of the most incredible things about Black Lives Matter is how it represents the fruition of 50 years of ethnic scholarship, says OGrady. The artist herself wrote an influential work in the early 1990s, Olympias Maid: Reclaiming Black Female Subjectivity, which deals as an artist with similar issues Kimberle Crenshaw grappled with as a legal scholar in her now famous essay on intersectionality.

Soul of a Nation is clearly about race, but Williams hopes that visitors will take something more than that away with them. I hope the viewer will see 65 different artists working in a time period, with different ideas and interests and technique skilled at what theyre doing. I hope it gives them some sense of the history of the medium and the history of art in general.

He goes on: If it gives them some sense of what the soul of a nation is, that would be interesting. But that implies a bigger burden than just being members of a nation.

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Soul of a Nation review the extraordinary art of the black power era – The Guardian

Icon for My Man Superman (Superman Never Saved any Black People Bobby Seale), 1969 by Barkley Hendricks. Photograph: Barkley L Hendricks; courtesy of the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York A man with shades and a perfectly picked afro stands against a flat silver background. He is dressed in a Superman T-shirt. His muscular arms are folded in a painting as sharply defined as a medieval icon, yet as modern as his aviator shades. The canvas, from 1969, is highly stylised and irreducibly cool. This is the self-portrait of Barkley L Hendricks, who died in April at the age of 72. Its visual double take black man in white mans costume, and in his painterly tradition is multiplied by the mordant title. Icon for My Man Superman (Superman Never Saved Any Black People Bobby Seale) quotes a famous remark of the founder of the Black Panthers. But Hendricks has no need of Superman. He saves himself hero of his own fiercely intelligent painting. This show is angry, zestful, ebullient, sardonic, wildly energetic, powerfully direct, occasionally sorrowful If Hendricks is a new name at Tate Modern, he is by no means alone. Nine-tenths of the cast list may well be unfamiliar. Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power covers 20 years of black art, beginning with the 1963 March on Washington and the inauguration of the Spiral group in New York. This artists collective formed specifically to ask what black art could, or should, be. These two questions which are by no means the same get different answers all through this fantastically dynamic show. Spiral decided to work only in black and white, allowing for all the politics of contrast. Some believed in unadulterated rhetoric clashes and protests, news images of violence enlarged or adapted. Reginald Gammons Freedom Now simply shows black figures marching straight towards you, placards barely cropped by the frame: a head-on confrontation in itself. But directly opposite, and strategically placed, is a tremendous painting by Norman Lewis. Lewis was an abstract expressionist, and at first sight his black-and-white canvas appears entirely abstract arrays of geometric white shapes flickering against sepulchral darkness. It is only after your eyes adjust to the visual dissonance that the true subject of the painting emerges: these are the triangular hoods of Klansmen gathering by night with their torches and flaming crosses. This is the terrifying sight of whiteness. It is perhaps no surprise that Spiral mounted only one joint exhibition. Black artists could not agree on what they should exhibit. Alvin Loving, the first African American artist to have a solo survey at the Whitney Museum, showed hard-edge geometric abstractions there in 1969. The critics loved them, but Lovings fellow black artists scourged him for bowing to the white art scene. He returned to the studio, cut up his canvases and made a completely new kind of art from the fragments, somewhere between collage and political banner. The spirit of protest keeps exact pace with the times. Melvin Edwardss devastating Lynch Fragments, dark and knotted sculptures formed out of hooks and manacles, speak directly to Klan murders in the early 60s. Noah Purifoys bristling totems, conjuring nameless violence, are fashioned out of garbage from the LA streets following the 1965 Watts riots. Dana Chandlers lime green door, riddled with bullet holes, commemorates the gunning down of a young Black Panther activist named Fred Hampton in his Chicago apartment in 1969. Prints of Chandlers door were distributed as a reminder of police brutality through the Black Panther newspaper. Back copies at Tate Modern show the art of Emory Douglas in all its graphic zip and register. Revolutionaries preach international solidarity, workers rights and black freedom. In the spectacles of a poor black kid the free breakfasts of the future are reflected. An armed Panther wearing a Self-Defence badge appears in printers Benday dots, a neat (and early) pastiche of Roy Lichtenstein; putting some politics into pop. Some of the art here doesnt really care too much about appearances. This is especially the case with the evolving pantheon of black heroes, including some pretty crude portraits of James Baldwin and Malcolm X in eye-popping DayGlo. The Wall of Respect in Chicago, a high-profile mural on an abandoned South Side building, seems to have set the tone. This influential project was established in 1967 by the Organisation of Black American Culture to celebrate its stars (and the arguments about who should be included are well documented in a section of this show). But you cant easily recognise Aretha, Smokey and Ornette in the wilfully awkward portraits the way you can immediately hear their music in your head. If this show had a soundtrack, it would feature all of these musicians and many others depicted here, from John Coltrane to Elaine Brown and Marvin Gaye. Barkley Hendrickss painting Whats Going On an immaculately suave painting of four black men in white suits against a white background, throwing intense focus on their pensive faces pays tribute to Gayes song. And it somehow gets directly into that moment where black protest songs turned into hip commodities. Whats Going On was written in response to police brutality during anti-war protests in Berkeley, but it soon lost that grim association. The song was the fastest-selling Motown single of the time. Barkley, ever the ironist, also offers easily the most startling painting in this show of himself, naked but for his socks and hat, one hand directing attention to his resplendent genitals. It is a painted retort to a review in 1976 by the imperious New York Times art critic Hilton Kramer, who had described him unconsciously dealing in racial stereotypes as far too slick if brilliantly endowed. This is a riveting show angry, zestful, ebullient, sardonic, wildly energetic, powerfully direct, occasionally sorrowful and tentative. Even its failures and there are plenty of mediocre works that strive for nothing except blatant public address, from the dreadlock tapestry to the op-art Malcolm X have their historic resonance. But the question irresistibly presents itself, in the end: is the impact more political or aesthetic? Does the choice of form or medium feel secondary? Some of this art has nothing to do with black rights at all. It is marvellous to see an abstract painting by Alma Thomas, for instance, a gorgeous lattice of red against voluminous blue entitled Mars Dust (the artist had been following Nasas failed 1971 mission to Mars). And some of it wants to be free of race issues altogether. Martin Puryears Self is a tragic hump of a sculpture. A strange new form, somewhere between mountain, lump and thumb, the height of the artist but inscrutable and stately, it is an unforgettable masterpiece. Made of carved and polished wood, but hollow when you knock it, this is a singular metaphor a mysterious self-portrait, all its secrets held within, as the outer form so beautifully implies. On the other hand, it is painted black. Puryear, who has a show at Londons Parasol Unit in September, is one of the giants of this show. So is the conceptual artist David Hammons, whose coruscating body prints a black figure with various props on a black ground include the punningly titled Three Spades. But still there are artists here whose work is all but invisible in Britain, as if the discrimination never ends. Perhaps the biggest revelation is the nonagenarian artist Betye Saar. She hits the nail every time. Her most unforgettable work is a metronome (a nod to Man Ray) with a tiny blackened corpse attached to the needle. Glued to the open lid of the instrument is a newspaper cutting about a black man lynched for refusing to dance to a whites man tune. The object both embodies and expresses the full horror: the corpse will have to keep time for ever, yet the metronome also acts as a reliquary, a tiny coffin commemorating the dead man. Its epigrammatic title is Ive Got Rhythm. Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power is at Tate Modern, London, until 22 October

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Black Power art show opens in London – euronews

A new exhibition of the art that came out of the American Civil Rights movement as well as the politics of black identity has opened at Londons iconic Tate modern museum. Called Soul of a Nation: the art of Black Power, it examines the triumphs and tragedies of the civil right movement in the US from the 1960s to the 1980s. What are the limits or expansiveness of a question or a subject area like Black Art, is that theres not one answer to the question we use this exhibition and were led by the artists, and used each artist and let them tell their version of the answer to that question, or allowed them to reject the question, Zoe Whitley, the co-curator of the exhibition said. Black Power was a rallying cry for African American pride, autonomy and solidarity, drawing inspiration from newly independent African nations. Some of the works presented featured some key black figures, who used their platform to speak out against injustices faced by black people at the height of the civil rights movement. The show runs until October the twenty second.

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A new exhibition is exploring art in the age of Black Power – Konbini – Konbini US

Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power is a ground-breaking exhibition at the Tate Modernin London, UK, which aimsto shine a spotlight on the work of black artists active inAmerica in the two decades after 1963. Benny Anders, ‘Did the Bear Sit Under a Tree?’, (1969), Emmanuel Collection, Estate of Benny Andrews/DACS, London/VAGA, NY2017 (Photo: Tate Modern) Spanning across12 rooms, the exhibition takes visitors from Chicago to Los Angeles, in a showcase ofthe work of artists using avariety of mediums to question what it means to be black in America. The show draws attention to the dilemmas facing Black artists at the time, said curators Zoe Whitely and Mark Godfrey: “How should an artist respond to political and cultural changes? Was there a Black art or a Black aesthetic? Should an artist create legible images or make abstract work? [] The exhibition looks at responses to such questions with each room devoted to groups of artists in cities nationwide, or to different kinds of art. While showing strong communities and robust artistic dialogues, it also reveals necessary disagreements about what it meant to be a Black artist at this time.” Frances Morris, the director of the Tate Modern, called the exhibition a “turning point” for the gallery. It comes as part of a wider effort to expand their collection and focus on artwork from areas of the world and movements that had previously been overlooked. Emma Amos, ‘Eva the Babysitter’, (1973), Emma Amos. Courtesy of the artist and Ryan Lee Gallery, New York. Licensed by VAGA, New York (Photo: Tate Modern) The artwork is thrilling in its breadth, and visually stunning: colorful murals, magazines, photographs, collages,paintings and sculptures by both lesser and well-known artists make up the collection. Soul of a Nationis an embodiment ofthe spirit of the age, emerging from themidst of the Civil Rights era, the thrilling militancy of the Black Power movement, growing interactions with the black diaspora and streams of thoughtcoming out of newly independent African nations. Iconic Black figuressuch as Angela Davis, John Coltrane, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King feature prominently. A number of events will be taking place alongsidewith the exhibition.Some of the best include a sold-out talk with director Spike Lee on July 12 about the art that influenced his career, an evening of art, debate and music co-hosted by AFROPUNK on July 20 and a discussion with award-winning poet Claudia Rankine on October 12. Faith Ringgold, ‘American People Series #20: Die’ (1967), The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Purchase; and gift of the Modern Women’s Fund, Faith Ringgold (Photo: Tate Modern) Betye Saar, ‘Rainbow Mojo’, (1972), Paul-Michael diMeglio, New York, Betye Saar. Courtesy of the Artist and Rober & Tilton, Los Angeles, California (Photo: Tate Modern) Barkley L. Hendricks, ‘Icon for My Man Superman (Superman Never Saved any Black People – Bobby Seale)’ (1969), Collection of Liz and Eric Lefkofsky, Barkley L. Hendricks. Courtesy of the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York (Photo: Tate Modern) A playlist of songs about black empowerment was curated in response to the exhibition by Darcus Beese, the president of Island Records. Beese is the son of the British Black Panther activists Barbara Beese and Darcus Howe. Listen to the selected tracks below: Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power is at Tate Modern in London from July 12 to October 22, 2017. The exhibition will move to the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Arkansas, February 3 to April 23, 2018 and then toBrooklyn Museum, on September 7 till February 3, 2019 Read More -> Marvel’s ‘Black Panther’ Cast Look Flawless In These New Photos

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Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power, review – The Telegraph – Telegraph.co.uk

The Encounter at the National Portrait Gallery-review The most powerful work in this section, Melvin Edwardss Curtain (for William and Peter), a screen of dangling barbed-wire with a fringe of chains is rather thrown away by being hung out of sight of the shows main drag and too close to the wall. If Edwardss claim that he used the wire simply as a linear material with kinks, rather than as a metaphor for, say, social incarceration, isnt quite believable, theres a sense in this section of artists with very diverse agendas that the show can only begin to start exploring who have had a socio-political role forced upon them by the need to band together as black artists simply to get their work seen. A section on Black Heroes, meanwhile, has been included, you might cynically conclude, to bring in works by white artists Andy Warhol, with a late portrait of Muhammad Ali, and the voguish, but over-rated Alice Neel, with an image of painter Faith Ringgold. If were to have Warhol at all, why not his notorious Race Riot images of the early Sixties?

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Black Power founder Reitu Harris dies | Radio New Zealand News – Radio New Zealand

The founding president of the Black Power gang, Reitu Harris, has died. Reitu Harris Photo: Supplied In the 1970s, Mr Harris established the gang to help other Mori boys who had been in state care and were disconnected from their marae and iwi. In the 1980s, he formed a political relationship with Rob Muldoon and Matiu Rata and was able to establish employment for people living in the city. The Wellington chapter of Black Power took his body to the steps of Parliament yesterday and performed a haka to acknowledge Mr Harris’ relationships with politicians. Reitu Harris’s body is carried to the steps of Parliament for a haka. Photo: Supplied Black Power life member and friend Denis O’Reilly said, even though they were young and rebellious and committed offences, they were not criminals. “He tried to give young people a notion of recovering their sense of Moridom. “To an extent, his life’s work has been done. In the ’70s a lot of those young people didn’t know their marae or their hap or their iwi and if you ask this generation now, they do.” Eugene Ryder of Black Power Wellington said Mr Harris was a hard worker and loved his children and mokopuna. “He created a safe environment for us to live in and demonstrate that regardless of stature you could actually make a difference and he helped demonstrate leadership among people who struggled to find or receive leadership.” Jarrod Gilbert, author of the book Patched: The History of New Zealand Gangs said Mr Harris had a great social conscience and fundamentally moulded the Black Power’s pro-society stance. He said Mr Harris would not let Black Power members use they swastika symbol like the Mongrel Mob, because of what it symbolised. “There are some incredibly positive elements to Rei Harris but he was still a gangster. He had to fight for his territory and he had to fight for his leadership position and he made no bones about it that dealing marijuana was a key component of the gang scene. “He wasn’t a saint but within his realm he was a very significant figure and on balance, relative within the gang scene, he was an immensely positive force.” Mr Harris was born in 1951. He passed away on Sunday and his funeral is expected to be held tomorrow at Rakeiao Marae in Rotoiti.

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Black Power founding president Reitu Harris dies – Stuff.co.nz

Last updated21:02, July 12 2017 ROSS SETFORD Reitu Harris’ body was taken to Parliament’s steps on Tuesday to mark his relationship with politicians. The man who established the Black Power gang in the 1970s, Reitu Harris, has died. As the founding president Harris created the gang to help Mori boys who had been in state care, and were disconnected from their marae and iwi, RNZ reported. In the 1980s he established political connections with Robert Muldoon and Matiu Rata, and helped create employment for people living in the city. SUPPLIED/FACEBOOK The founding president of the gang died on Sunday, July 9. Black Power life member and friend DenisO’Reillytold RNZ, even though they were young and rebellious and committed offences, they were not criminals. READ MORE: *Wedding picture with Black Power gang leaves couple with special memory *Get the gang round for a movie: Black Power holds a film festival in Wellington *Mongrel Mob members run out of petrol, unwittingly knock on door of rival gang for help “He tried to give young people a notion of recovering their sense ofMoridom. “To an extent, his life’s work has been done. In the ’70s a lot of those young people didn’t know their marae or theirhapor their iwi and if you ask this generation now, they do.” Harris worked hard and loved his whanau, Eugene Ryder, a Black Power member in Wellington said. “He created a safe environment for us to live in and demonstrate that regardless of stature you could actually make a difference and he helped demonstrate leadership among people who struggled to find or receive leadership.” The Wellington chapter of Black Power took his body to the steps of Parliament on Tuesday and performed a haka to acknowledge Harris’ relationships with politicians. Harris’ died on Sunday and his funeral is expected to be held on Thursday at Rakeiao Marae in Rotoiti. -Stuff

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Black Power in the art market; Saatchi’s new dealer show; a $10 million Masterpiece sale – Telegraph.co.uk

On the invitation card to Tate Moderns Art in the Age of Black Power, which opens this week, is a 1966 self-portrait by Barkley L Hendricks, then aged 21, wearing just his shades and a Superman t-shirt. Like most African American artists, Hendricks had a completely marginal position in the market during the period covered by the exhibition (1963-1983), and for years after. But when he began exhibiting with the trail-blazing Jack Shainman Gallery in New York in 2005, he began to attract attention, starring in the Nasher Museums The Birth of the Coolexhibition (2008), and at New Yorks Swann Galleries auctions of African American art, where his top price rose from $10,000in 2008 to $365,000 in 2015. Then, just after he died earlier this year, his market shifted up another gear when three of his paintings broke the record at Sothebys selling for up to $960,500(741,500)for The Way You Look Tonight, a four-foot self-portrait inspired by Renaissance portraits he had seen at the Uffizi in Florence. Although he has only three works in this encyclopaedic show, the choice of Hendricks for the invitation card is significant because it acknowledges the tectonic shift that has been taking place in the market for black American artists. The Saatchi Gallery in Chelsea opens a new exhibition today where it collaborates with dealerToby Clarke of the Vigo galleryto show and sell work by the Belgian painter Bram Bogart. The artist, who died in 2012, is best known for the thick licks of brightly coloured paint that comprised his canvases. This exhibition consists of the least-known of his works, pure white paintings; thus the title of the show, Witte de Witte. Prices will range from 37,000 to 105,000.

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‘False Black Power?’ More Black Elected Leaders Hasn’t Paid Off – Newsmax

The strategy of electing more black Americans to increase the political power of African Americans has not paid off, Jason L. Riley, author of the new book “False Black Power?” told Newsmax TV. “Since the 1960s the civil rights leadership has put in place a strategy of emphasizing heavily the election of more black officials,” Riley told host Steve Malzberg. “The thinking is, if we can put more blacks in elected office, the social economic gains would flow naturally from that. “I thought the Obama presidency was really the culmination of this strategy . . . [But] there were a lot of black elected officials before Obama. They weren’t president, but they were mayors, they were governors, they were congressmen, they were school superintendents, and police chiefs . . . “From that experience we . . . should’ve tempered our expectations as to what black political leadership could do,because in many of those cases, the black poor were worse off. And so we saw this pattern again in many cases with the Obama presidency where racial gaps, and home ownership, and income, and poverty all widened.” WatchNewsmax TVon DirecTV 349, U-verse 1220, FiOS 615, YouTube Livestream, Newsmax TV App from any smartphone, NewsmaxTV.com, Roku, Amazon Fire More Systems Here What is the answer? “In the first half of the 20th century, coming out of slavery through reconstruction and Jim Crow, the emphasis was on building human capital, on developing culturally, education, evolving, and developing the right habits and attitudes, and behavior, and values that other groups in America had developed on their rise from poverty to prosperity,” he said. “That’s where blacks were focused on in the 1920s and 30s and 40s. And when they were focused on that, we saw racial gaps closing in this country. Gaps in income, gaps in home ownership, gaps in employment, gaps in blacks entering the skilled white-collared professions. Slow but steady progress.” But in the second half of the 20th century, Riley told Malzberg, black leadership shifted to a political strategy during which the steady progress slowed to a crawl and “even reverse course.” “We talk a lot today of the black left does, or the left in general, about the legacy of slavery or the legacy of Jim Crow explaining these racial gaps, this racial inequality today,” said Riley, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute. “I think we would do better to be talking about the legacy of the great society. The legacy of the huge expansion of the welfare state. I think that much better explains what we see going on today.” “False Black Power?” published by Templeton Press, is part of its “New Threats to Freedom Series.” 2017 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

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‘The ghetto is the gallery’: black power and the artists who captured the soul of the struggle – The Guardian

All of these slogans are utopian phrases Lorraine OGradys Rivers, First Draft: A Little Girl with Pink Sash Memorizes her Latin Lesson. Photograph: 2017 Lorraine OGrady/Artists Rights Society, New York Can the soul of a nation be defined by artists of its most oppressed group? Thats the ambitious goal of Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power, about to open at Londons Tate Modern. Through 150 artworks and more than 60 artists, the show aims to represent the United States ethical, conscious and moral spirit its soul through exhibits made by (and about) people who historically had less life, less liberty, and less wealth than their fellow white citizens. Framing the show from 1963 to 1983, the curators were led by how artists of the time were responding to Martin Luther Kings mission and the rising, more militant black power movement. So the exhibition encompasses a wide variety of works of black subjects and/or created by black artists, from the depictions of protest and music in Roy DeCaravas stunning black-and-white photographs (Mississippi Freedom Marcher, Washington, DC, and Coltrane on Soprano, New York, both 1963) to an afro-wearing, bespectacled brother crossing his arms against a grey background, as well as a red, white and blue frame in Barkley L Hendricks 1969 work Icon for My Man Superman (Superman Never Saved Any Black People Bobby Seale). In those two decades, people who were artists, activists, and both, did a great deal to mark blackness as an identity: the Black Panthers organised to stop police brutality, while also creating free breakfast and community medical programmes; Nina Simone released To Be Young, Gifted and Black; and Tommie Smith and John Carlos raised black power fists at the 1968 Olympics. And during these years, artists such as Lorraine OGrady were asking: what is art, who is it for? Taking their work to the streets to insist, as William T Williams put it, that art need not be in a temple. Art could be everywhere. In a white walled room of the Alexander Gray Gallery in New York, Melvin Edwards, now in his 80s, is remembering what it was like to be among the first African American sculptors to display large-scale works in such venues as Manhattans Whitney Museum of American Art. On the wall are three of his Lynch Fragments, a series of sculptures, decades in the making, that will feature in the Tate show. Eeach Lynch Fragment is unique yet in conversation with the others. The small sculptures contain various recognisable items: a hammer, a link of chains, a knife blade. On their own, they convey a sense of dread but, when put together, the sense of violence is hugely amplified. Tate will show Some Bright Morning, a 1963 fragment named after an African American community that was threatened with the phrase: If you people dont behave, some bright morning were going to come and take care of you. While the protrusions conjure up images of enslavement, Edwards wants people to think beyond literal chains, since they only really existed symbolically. Most slaves never were chained, he says. Youve got 500 slaves and youve got to make a set of chains for each one? The owner wouldnt have wanted to spend that much money. And theyre going to be able to do about a tenth of the work dragging these chains. They were restrained in other ways. Much of his work like Curtain (for William and Pete) is more abstract. When he was starting out, Edwards rejected how the art world said art for arts sake. I said no, art could be for any sake and that doesnt limit the experimental aspect of the way I work. He dismisses the idea that abstraction was new with Picasso in the 20th century, because humans have been using geometry, abstraction and direct representation as long as weve walked the earth. Similarly, he says, the black arts movement started whenever black people started a couple of hundred thousand years ago. From the mahogany of Elizabeth Cattletts Black Unity fist to the screaming purples and pinks of Wadsworth Jarrels Revolutionary and the crisp, horrifying representations of mutilated black and white men, women and children in Faith Ringgolds American People Series #20: Die, Soul of a Nation showcases the range of styles black artists of this era employed. As Bull Connor sent in the dogs, little girls were blown up in a church, and Malcolm and Martin were assassinated, did black art need to directly and urgently respond? Could abstract work be relevant to a black America in crisis? Edwards never bought the idea that figurative paintings might be dealing with the realities of the world in a way that abstract work was not. He recalls creating the Smokehouse murals, a series of geometric murals made in neglected parts of Harlem, with William T Williams, Guy Ciarcia and Billy Rose. We painted our work to change the place, not to put messages on the walls to tell people whats wrong and what to change. Williams, his fellow muralist, was involved in many of the eras great black moments. He marched on Washington with the 1199 healthcare workers union, because he was from a generation of young optimists who believed that things could change, that organising was important, that collective voices were more important than a single voice. He recalls this great mass of humanity and the atmosphere of celebration even though it was a protest march. Emory Douglas, minister of culture for the Black Panthers, once said: The ghetto itself is the gallery. Williams put this idea into practice when he established the pioneering artist-in-residence programme at the Studio Museum in Harlem, with the idea of an artist living in a community, using his or her skills or insights, inspiring young artists, being inspired by the community and showing and creating in the community. All of which was perfectly captured in Lorraine OGradys landmark 1983 work Art Is , which stretched for seven miles through Harlem during the African American Day parade. She collected more than 400 photos of parade viewers being framed by gold frames held by participants, as well as views through a huge gold frame shed mounted on a float putting Harlem itself into focus as it passed by. The concept was that, as people were being framed, they were being acknowledged as art in themselves, OGrady says, in her studio in New Yorks Westbeth artist community. She chose not to do Art Is… at the more flamboyant West Indian Day parade, as she wanted to show that black people in everyday dress not just flamboyant costumes were art. OGrady doesnt have a strong relationship with the phrase black power. All of these slogans, she says, are utopian phrases. Theres nothing wrong with them. They enable the kind of activity that has to take place for things to change. But the phrase didnt indicate that there was real black power except self-empowerment. Soul of a Nation will occupy 12 rooms, from Art in the Streets (which includes We Shall Survive Without a Doubt by Emory Douglas) to Black Heroes (which pairs Hendricks Superman with a red and green Andy Warhol silkscreen of Muhammad Ali). There will be an entire room dedicated to the Chicago-based collective AfriCOBRA, which stood for African Commune of Bad Relevant Artists. Keen for their work to be accessible, they made poster art designed for mass production.[5]. The first room, though, is dedicated to Spiral, an arts alliance that flourished in the early 1960s and consisted of one woman, Emma Amos, and 14 older men, all committed to using their talents in the cause of civil rights. I think Spiral were announcing talent, says OGrady, whose work closes the show. Black artists right to be heard. And my piece, Art Is, was much more about who art can be made by, who should be addressed by art, who should be participating both as audience and markers and evaluators of art. If Soul of a Nation begins at the moment the identity of negro gave way to black, it ends as black gives way to African American during the Reagan 80s around the time Black Panther co-founder Bobby Seale began selling BBQs. But, as the show opens, black is back because of the #BlackLivesMatter movement, and because of a rising sense of transnational blackness that cannot be contained by the nationalist identity of African American. One of the most incredible things about Black Lives Matter is how it represents the fruition of 50 years of ethnic scholarship, says OGrady. The artist herself wrote an influential work in the early 1990s, Olympias Maid: Reclaiming Black Female Subjectivity, which deals as an artist with similar issues Kimberle Crenshaw grappled with as a legal scholar in her now famous essay on intersectionality. Soul of a Nation is clearly about race, but Williams hopes that visitors will take something more than that away with them. I hope the viewer will see 65 different artists working in a time period, with different ideas and interests and technique skilled at what theyre doing. I hope it gives them some sense of the history of the medium and the history of art in general. He goes on: If it gives them some sense of what the soul of a nation is, that would be interesting. But that implies a bigger burden than just being members of a nation.

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