2016 Holiday Gift Guide: 30 Objects Inspired by the Work of African American Artists

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FOR THE ART ENTHUSIASTS ON YOUR LIST, consider a gift inspired by one of the most critically acclaimed African American artists working today. Culture Type has curated a list of 30 fabulous finds to fit any budget and suit a variety of recipients. Many special products were created to accompany major exhibitions in 2016, including the Alma Thomas presentation at the Studio Museum in Harlem, Jamaican-born Nari Ward’s “Sun Splashed” survey, and “Basquiat: The Unknown Notebooks.” How about an artist designed-object by Mickalene Thomas, Kehinde Wiley, or British-Nigerian artist Yinka Shonibare? Looking for an amazing scarf? New limited edition options from Rashid Johnson, Alma Thomas and Rodney McMillian reflect each of the artist’s unique practices.

 

FOR HIM OR HER

 

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Kehinde Wiley: ‘The World Stage’ Boxed Notecards, $15.95

Paying tribute to Kehinde Wiley’s “The World Stage” series of paintings featuring primarily young men from Africa, Latin America, Asia and the Middle East, this boxed card set includes 20 cards, with four different designs, compelling portraits from 2007-2013. The series also been documented in a number of volumes such as “World Stage: Africa, Lagos-Dakar,” “World Stage: Israel,” and “World Stage: Brazil,” published to coincide with Wiley’s exhibitions.

 

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Mickalene Thomas: First Crush White, $30

After Mickalene Thomas collaborated with Bedell Cellars to design a label for First Crush Red, a 2014 red blend, the winemaker introduced a white wine pairing, a Chardonnay that also features a label by the artist. The wine labels reflects work she presented in “Tête de Femme,” an exhibition at Lehmann Maupin, her gallery in New York. “Tete a tete,” a group exhibition curated by Thomas, opens next week and is on view through Jan. 31, 2017.

 

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Four Generations: The Joyner Giuffrida Collection of Abstract Art, $55

The Joyner Giuffrida Collection includes more than 300 works by about 100 African American and African diaspora artists, including Sam Gilliam, Norman Lewis, Alma Thomas, Richard Mayhew, Edward Clark, Charles Gaines, Mark Bradford, Glenn Ligon, Odili Donald Odita, Lorna Simpson, Lynette Yiadom-Boakye, Robin Rhode, William T. Williams, and Samuel Levi Jones. Initiated by influential collector Pamela Joyner, the extensive holdings are considered among the most significant of their kind. “It’s no less ambitious than an effort to reframe art history,” Joyner told the New York Times. This groundbreaking volume documents the collection with full-color images and contributions from leading scholars and curators.

 

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Jean-Michel Basquiat: Porcelain Tray, $135.00

This small porcelain tray is perfect for change, rings, keys, or the Jean-Michel Basquiat lapel pin featured below. The object references “Return of the Central Figure” (1983) by Basquiat, whose work will be presented at London’s Barbican Centre next September. “Basquiat: Boom for Real” is the artist’s first large-scale exhibition in the UK.

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Mark Bradford: Be Strong Boquan Necklace, $250

Benefiting Art + Practice, Mark Bradford’s arts and education foundation in the Leimert Park neighborhood of Los Angeles, this necklace, an edition of 500, is described as “14k gold-plated sterling silver.” The necklace design references the artist’s “Be Strong Boquan” exhibition, which was on view at Hauser & Wirth, his New York gallery.

 

FOR SCARF LOVERS

 

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Smithsonian: African American History and Culture Museum Corona Commemorative Scarf, $35

Exclusive to the Smithsonian Institution, this scarf references the National Museum of Africa American History and Culture’s exterior three-tiered corona. Designed with an an open work pattern, the defining architectural element was envisioned by David Adjaye. The museum’s September grand opening featured several exhibitions. “Visual Art and the American Experience” showcasing the institution’s collection of art, presents works by artists Robert Duncanson, Alma Thomas, Whitfield Lovell, Jefferson Pinder, Edward Clark, William T. Williams, Kara Walker, and Amy Sherald, among many others.

 

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Jean-Michel Basquiat: PAMM x Basquiat Scarf, $44.95

Featuring the graffiti text and graphic motifs for which Jean-Michel Basquiat is known, this scarf was made in collaboration with the artist’s estate to coincide with “Basquiat: The Unknown Notebooks.” The exhibition was organized by the Brooklyn Museum and presented at the High Museum in Atlanta and the Perez Art Museum, Miami (PAMM).

 

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Yinka Shonibare: Silk Pocket Square, $52

Drawing inspiration from “The British Library,” an installation by Yinka Shonibare that was co-commissioned by HOUSE 2014 and Brighton Festival, this pocket square was produced for the Royal Academy of the Arts in London. It is also available directly from the Royal Academy, which is also offering cuff links, an umbrella and luggage tag by Shonibare.

 

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Alma Thomas: Limited Edition Scarf, $125

This year Alma Thomas received much-deserved recognition with an exhibition co-organized by the Tang Teaching Museum at Skidmore College and the Studio Museum in Harlem. A comprehensive exhibition catalog was just published to complement the exhibition and a limited edition scarf was produced to further commemorate the groundbreaking presentation.

 

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Rodney McMillian: Limited Edition Scarf, $250

Los Angeles-based artist Rodney McMillian had a trio of major shows this year, on view simultaneously at the Studio Museum in Harlem, ICA Philadelphia, and MoMA PS1 in New York, where “Rodney McMillian: Landscape Pantings” was on view after being presented at the Aspen Art Museum. This large-sized scarf was designed in conjunction with the exhibition and produced in an edition of 25.

 

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Rashid Johnson: The New Black Yoga Scarf, $350

This large-sized silk scarf features still images from “The New Black Yoga” is a 10-minute film by Rashid Johnson in which five African American men do yoga at the beach. The film was first shown at Hauser & Wirth, his New York gallery, and later presented at the Guggenheim Museum. The museum has since acquired the film and Johnson serves on its foundation board.

 

FOR MUSIC LOVERS

 

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Common: ‘Black America Again’ Album, $11.49-$13.29

Released earlier this month, Common’s new album features a cover image designed by artist Lorna Simpson, who has a solo exhibition on view at the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth through Jan. 15, 2017. Common has said the album is his most politically charged, a response to the times. Given this, he has said he wanted to write a new black American story. Seeking to activate and empower people, he has been inspired by both the politically minded and creative innovators, including Simpson, Rashid Johnson and Kehinde Wiley; film directors Ava DuVernay and Barry Jenkins; “Hamilton” creator Lin-Manuel Miranda; Ta-Nehisi Coates and Kenrick Lamar, among others.

 

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Jason Moran: ‘Staged’ Vinyl Album, £25 (about $31 US)

The Kennedy Center Artistic Director for Jazz, composer and pianist Jason Moran has collaborated with a number of contemporary artists including Theaster Gates, Joan Jonas, Glenn Ligon and Lorna Simpson. An artist in his own right, he presented two installations at the 2015 Venice Biennale titled “Staged,” which were later exhibited at Luhring Augustine, his New York gallery. Created for the biennale, this vinyl album, a limited edition of 300, features three new recordings written, produced, and performed by Moran. A more exclusive edition of 100, “hand-signed and numbered” by the artist, is available for about $125.

 

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Stan Douglas: ‘Luanda-Kinshasa’ Vinyl Album, £25 (about $31 US)

This vinyl album is the soundtrack to “Luanda-Kinshasa,” a experimentally structured film by Canadian artist Stan Douglas that conjures a documentary film on a set depicting a legendary 1970s New York recording studio. The single channel video installation was jointly acquired by the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and Perez Art Museum, Miami (PAMM), where it was on view earlier this year.

 

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Peter and David Adjaye: ‘Dialogues’ Vinyl Album, £50 (about $62 US)

A “sonic” collaboration between brothers, Peter Adjaye, a composer and musician, and David Adjaye, the acclaimed architect who designed the Smithsonian’s new National Museum of African American History and Culture, “Dialogues” featured two vinyl records. Over the years, Peter has created “sound architecture,” music that represents or corresponds to his brother’s building projects.

 

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Jennie C. Jones: Song Containers, $6,000

An edition of 10, these aluminum sculptural objects (four parts) by Jennie C. Jones are scaled to evolving forms of music media, from 8-tracks and cassettes to LPs. Last month, the exhibition “Amplitude,” was on view at Sikkema Jenkins, her New York gallery, and earlier this year, “Jennie C. Jones: Compilation” was published to coincide with her midcareer survey at the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston.

 

FOR BAG LOVERS

 

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Stanley Whitney: Pocket Tote, $25

This limited-edition tote was designed for the Studio Museum in Harlem and features a detail of a 2014 untitled gouache painting by Stanley Whitney, who was recently named a 2016 United States Artists fellow. The museum presented “Dance the Orange,” Whitney’s first New York City solo museum exhibition.

 

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Njideka Akunyili Crosby: Pocket Tote, $25

“Cassava Garden,” a 2015 mixed-media painting by Njideka Akunyili Crosby, inspired this limited-edition tote designed for the Studio Museum in Harlem. A recipient of the museum’s 2015 Joyce Alexander Wien Artist Prize, Akunyili Crosby achieved a record at auction earlier this month when her painting “Drown” sold for more than $1 million at Sotheby’s New York.

 

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African City Bag, $35

Featuring the names of 22 African cities, this tote bag would be great for everyday where ever you are in the world. It is also the perfect bag to carry for the 1:54 Contemporary African Art Fair, Joburg Art Fair, Dak’Art Biennale, Lagos Photo Festival, or the Also Known as Africa Art art fair in Paris. The tote bag is produced by Brooklyn, N.Y.-based Africa Boutik, and is also available in a few other designs, including a large tote with leather handles and a denim tote with kente cloth lining, both made in Ghana.

 

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Jean-Michel Basquiat: Basquiat Art Backpack, $59.90

This backpack features details from several works by Jean-Michel Basquiat including “50-Cent Piece,” “King Brand,” and “Boxer Rebellion.” Basquiat continues to be as relevant as ever, captivating scholars and collectors alike. A newly published volume, “Jean-Michel Basquiat: Words Are All We Have,” considers how the artist dealt with language.

 

FOR STUFFING STOCKINGS

 

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William H. Johnson: Coloring Book, $7.95

This 48-page coloring book features 22 images by artist William H. Johnson (1901-1970), who painted poignant scenes of African American life. A treasure for all ages, the book is published by Pomegranate in cooperation with the Smithsonian American Art Museum, which holds the largest collection of works by the artist.

 

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Mickalene Thomas: Double-Sided Purse Mirror, $14.95

Known for her powerful portraits of black women, this brushed-bronze compact from Mickalene Thomas features a different photographic image on each side. The object is offered in conjunction with “Mickalene Thomas: Do I Look Like a Lady,” an exhibition of new and recent work at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, and complements her book “Muse: Mickalene Thomas Photographs.”

 

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Nick Cave: Playing Cards, $16

This deck of playing cards features images of four different Soundsuits by Nick Cave in performance, one for each suit. Meanwhile, Cave is presenting “Until,” a massive, immersive installation at Mass MoCA through September 2017.

 

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Jean-Michel Basquiat: Basquiat Lapel Pin, $20

This trendy enamel pin portraying artist Jean-Michel Basquiat is made to adorn a lapel, and could also be affixed to a cap or bag. The free spirit of the design by Georgia Perry, perfect for young and old, would pair well with “Radiant Child: The Story of Young Artist Jean-Michel Basquiat,” a new children’s book plenty of adults would enjoy.

 

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Jean-Michel Basquiat: PAMM x Basquiat T-Shirt ‘Ideal,’ $29.95

This t-shirt was made in collaboration with the estate of Jean-Michel Basquiat for the exhibition “Basquiat: The Unknown Notebooks.” The traveling exhibition was on view at the Perez Art Museum, Miami (PAMM), earlier this year and an exhibition catalog was published to accompany the show.

 

FOR HOME

 

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Nari Ward: Tea Towel, $65

The Perez Art Museum, Miami (PAMM), organized the largest survey of Nari Ward’s work to date. “Sun Splashed” opened at PAMM in fall 2015, was on view at the Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia earlier this year, and will be presented at ICA Boston next April. This Tea Towel is based on “Homeland Sweet Homeland” by Ward, which is featured in the exhibition and was acquired by PAMM.

 

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Nari Ward: Collectors Plate (3 designs), $75 each

“Sun Splashed,” Nari Ward’s mid-career survey organized by the Perez Art Museum, Miami (PAMM), was accompanied by a comprehensive exhibition catalog and inspired artist objects reflecting his work, including these three plate designs each produced in a limited edition of 250. The plates are also available directly through Lehmann Maupin, the gallery that represents Ward.

 

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Yinka Shonibare: Fine Bone China Milk Jug, $81

For the design of this pitcher, Yinka Shonibare combined imagery from the Tate Museum archive and iconography from his own practice. The British-Nigerian artist has created a number of other objects for the Tate, including a teapot, sugar bowl, plates, and cup and saucer, that can also be ordered directly from the museum shop.

 

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Kehinde Wiley: Porcelain Plate, $99 each (Set of 6, $525)

Replicating Kehinde Wiley’s celebrated portraits of black men and women from around the world, these open edition plates (and available set of six) feature images from the artist’s “Economy of Grace” and “World Stage: Lagos and Dakar” series. “Kehinde Wiley: A New Republic,” a traveling survey exhibition presenting works from his many portrait series, is on view at the Phoenix Art Museum through Jan. 8, 2017.

 

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Mickalene Thomas: Clarivel Centered Pillow, $220

Produced in a limited edition of 999, this pillow features a collage-look image of Clarivel, a recurring subject in the work of Mickalene Thomas. It was created in conjunction with the exhibition “Mickalene Thomas: Do I Look Like a Lady?” which is on view at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles through Feb. 6, 2017.

 

FOR MORE GIFT IDEAS check out Culture Type’s previous gift guide.

 

Editor’s Note: The featured items are suggested finds, subject to availability and described per each vendor’s summary. Stated prices reflect pricing at time of publication. Customer service, return policies, and delivery fees and timelines vary with each vendor referenced. Shop at your own risk and discretion. CT

 

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