POLITICS PAST AND PRESENT coursed through the art world in 2017. Issues of censorship and debates around who has the right to depict black bodies came to the fore. While the biggest news stories, from White House machinations, gun violence, and immigration to the fate of Confederate monuments, racial division, and sexual harassment revelations, directly affected some institutions, were reflected in the work of artists, and prompted some to take action through letters, protests, and special campaigns and projects.
The contemporary moment is reminiscent of the 1960s and 70s when the Civil Rights, Black Power, and Women’s Rights Movements, and efforts to diversify art institutions dominated the discourse. Exhibitions documenting these historic years were some of the most compelling of 2017. “Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power” at the Tate Modern in London, “We Wanted a Revolution: Black Radical Women, 1965–85” organized by the Brooklyn Museum, and “Magnetic Fields: Expanding American Abstraction, 1960s,” currently on view at the National Museum of Women in the Arts, present works by pioneering African American artists and foregrounded overlooked figures.
Meanwhile, emerging artists had their first solo museum exhibitions, new artist records were achieved at auction, curators took on new appointments, and galleries announced their representation of a number of African American artists and estates.
As the year comes to a close, Carrie Mae Weems gathers fellow artists and thought leaders for a symposium. “The Shape of Things” weighed the toll violence of violence on our communities and considered “our tumultuous political and social climate.” Weems discussed the program with the New York Times. “I have been dealing with this idea of being a socially engaged and motivated artist since the very, very beginning of my career and very little has changed,” she said. “Presidents have come and gone.”
The following review of 2017, presents a snapshot of the year in black art.
RUJEKO HOCKLEY | 2017 proves to be a pivotal year for up-and-coming curator Rujeko Hockley. After serving as an assistant curator of contemporary art at the Brooklyn Museum, she is named assistant curator at the Whitney Museum of American Art in January. In the months following she co-curates “We Wanted a Revolution: Black Radical Women, 1965–85” at the Brooklyn Museum and co-authors two catalogs complementing the exhibition. At the Whitney, she organizes “Toyin Ojih Odutola: To Wander Determined,” the artist’s first New York museum show. Then, after being featured in Vogue and Elle magazines in spreads about women in the arts, she is appointed co-curator of the 2019 Whitney Biennial in December. | Shown, From left, JAN VAN RAAY, “Michelle Wallace (center) and Faith Ringgold (right) participating in Art Workers Coalition Protest at Whitney Museum,” 1971 (digital C-print), Courtesy Jan Van Raay Portland, OR, 305-307. Copyright © Jan Van Raay via Brooklyn Museum; TOYIN OJIH ODUTOLA (b. 1985), “Pregnant,” 2017 (charcoal, pastel and pencil on paper, 74 1/2 x 42 inches). | © Toyin Ojih Odutola. Courtesy the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York
MAGAZINE | The Magazine Antiques reports the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, Mass., plans to present and tour Jacob Lawrence‘s “Struggle…From the History of the American People” (1954-56) in 2020, but several panels from the series are missing, and the museum has launched a search.
Published Jan. 8, “Kara Walker-MCMXCIX” collects a selection of sketches by the critically recognized artist Kara Walker since 1999.
NEWS | National Park Service declares the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in Harlem a national historic landmark on Jan. 11.
AWARD/HONOR | The International Center of Photography announces 2017 Infinity Awards on Jan. 11. For Critical Writing and Research, the “Vision & Justice” issue of Aperture magazine published Summer 2016, with Michael Famighetti, editor and Sarah Lewis, guest editor is recognized. For Freedoms, first artist-run Super PAC co-founded by Hank Willis Thomas and Eric Gottesman, wins in the Online Platform and New Media category. The awards ceremony is held April 24 in New York City.
AWARD/HONOR > | On Jan. 12, the Seattle Art Museum announces video installation and performance artist Sondra Perry is the winner of the 2017 Gwendolyn Knight and Jacob Lawrence Prize.
APPOINTMENT | On Jan. 18, Connie H. Choi is named associate curator, permanent collection at the Studio Museum in Harlem. Previously an assistant curator at the Brooklyn Museum, she begins the new position Feb. 6.
NEWS | President Obama, who kept a bust of Martin Luther King Jr. by Charles Alston in the Oval Office, issues his last proclamation commemorating the King holiday. The President also designates three historic sites as national monuments recognizing the legacy of the Civil Rights Movement in his final days in office.
NEWS | Artists organize strike against Jan. 20 presidential inauguration. J20 Art Strike calls for a day of “noncompliance,” meaning no work, no school, no business. Supporters include artists Coco Fusco, Simone Leigh, Julie Mehretu, and Dread Scott, among hundreds of others.
APPOINTMENT | The Whitney Museum of American Art announces the hiring of Rujeko Hockley as assistant curator. After serving for four years as assistant curator of contemporary art, she officially starts on March 6.
On Jan. 26, Ghanaian-born, British artist and filmmaker John Akomfrah wins Artes Mundi 7, the UK prize for international contemporary art.
AWARD/HONOR | Center for Architecture and Design in Philadelphia announces Theaster Gates is recipient of 2017 Edmund N. Bacon Award The honor recognizing “one outstanding national or international figure who, like Bacon, has advocated for excellence in urban development, planning, thought, and design’ is presented March 8.
AWARD/HONOR | On Jan. 31, Baltimore photographer Devin Allen is announced as one of two recipients of inaugural Gordon Parks Fellowships.
NINA CHANEL ABNEY | 2017 is a game changer for Nina Chanel Abney. After joining Jack Shainman Gallery at the end of 2016, “Royal Flush,” her first-ever solo museum exhibition opens in February at the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University and her first catalog is published documenting the show. At the end of the year, Abney has two simultaneous gallery exhibitions in New York. “Seized the Imagination” at Jack Shainman (Nov. 9-Dec. 20) and “Safe House” at Mary Boone (Nov. 9-Dec. 22), are her first shows at the galleries. | Shown, “Black and Blues,” 2017 (acrylic and spray paint on canvas). © Nina Chanel Abney, Courtesy the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery
MEDIA > | On Feb. 1, Google Doodle begins Black History Month with tribute to sculptor Edmonia Lewis (1844?-1907).
ACQUISITION | Fine Art Museums of San Francisco announce the acquisition of more than 60 works by 22 African American artists from the South from the Souls Grown Deep Foundation through a gift/purchase arrangement. The foundation is collaborating with museums to broaden the representation of Southern contemporary artists such as Thornton Dial, Bessie Harvey, Lonnie Holley, Ronald Lockett, Joe Minter, Jessie T. Pettway, Mose Tolliver, and Purvis Young, in their collections. The news follows a similar acquisition from the foundation by the Metropolitan Museum of Art and later transactions with the Southern Folklife Collection at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, High Museum of Art in Atlanta, and New Orleans Museum of Art.
APPOINTMENT | The Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture names Kenneth I. Chenault Chairman of its Advisory Council (Feb. 6).
MAGAZINE | On Feb. 13, The New Yorker publishes “The Crossing” by Kara Walker, a watercolor referencing Emanuel Leutze’s 1851 “Washington Crossing the Delaware.” The artist couldn’t bear to turn on the news the day of the presidential inauguration, so she painted instead.
APPOINTMENT > | Erin Christovale is named co-curator of Made in L.A. 2018, the citywide biennial presented by the Hammer Museum. An independent curator at the time of the announcement, Christovale later joins the museum as an assistant curator in June.
APPOINTMENT | On Feb. 13, J. Paul Getty Trust in Los Angeles announces influential art collector Pamela Joyner is joining its board of trustees.
NEWS | Artist Rashid Johnson announces a foray into film, says directorial debut will be adaptation of the Richard Wright novel “Native Son.”
MEDIA | “A New Color The Art of Being Edythe Boone,” a documentary by Marlene “Mo” Morris about Edythe Boone, the self-taught muralist, activist and educator from East Harlem who relocated to the San Francisco Bay area seeking a safer community for her children, debuts Feb 14 on the World Channel. (Scheduled for encore airing Jan. 30, 2018. Check local listing.)
AWARD/HONOR | College Art Association presents Awards of Distinction on Feb. 15 in New York at its annual conference. Honorees include Kerry James Marshall for Distinguished Body of Work, Faith Ringgold for Lifetime Achievement, and Ruth Fine, who received the Alfred H. Barr Award for “Procession: The Art of Norman Lewis,” the catalog she edited in conjunction with the exhibition she curated.
EXHIBITION | On Feb. 16, the Virginia Museum of the Fine Arts (VMFA) introduces the first installment of a four-part exhibition exploring The Photographers Annual, a four volume series published by African American photographers in New York City from 1973-1980. Featuring images by P.H. Polk and Chester Higgins the second iteration of the exhibition opens in October.
EXHIBITION | “Nina Chanel Abney: Royal Flush” opens at the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University on Feb. 16. The artist’s first solo museum show features about 30 paintings, collages and watercolors produced over the past decade.
EXHIBITION | N’Namdi Center for Contemporary Art in Detroit presents “Artis Lane: Emerging” (Feb. 17-May 20) showcasing work by Artis Lane, the 90-year-old Los Angeles-based sculptor.
NEWS | Artists Adam Pendleton, Julie Mehretu, Ellen Gallagher, and Rashid Johnson, put up $95,000 to purchase Nina Simone’s birth home in Tryon, N.C., with plans to preserve it as a historic site.
AWARD/HONOR | On Feb. 21, the High Museum of Art in Atlanta announces Naima Keith is the recipient of the 2017 David C. Driskell Prize, which will be awarded at an April 28 dinner. Keith is deputy director of the California African American Museum in Los Angeles.
LORNA SIMPSON | Known for her photography, conceptual artist LORNA SIMPSON hasn’t picked up a camera in a while when she agrees to make a series of portraits for Vogue magazine in March. Her subjects are women for whom “art is central to their life and work.” In April, news comes that she has departed Salon 94 and is joining Hauser & Wirth. The mega gallery presents a solo exhibition of her work at Frieze New York in May. Meanwhile, “Lorna Simpson: Hypothetical?” revisiting a sound installation first shown at the 1993 Whitney Biennial is on view from February to October at the Fisher Landau Center for Art in Long Island City, N.Y. | Shown, from left, poet Elizabeth Alexander, artist Julie Mehretu, curator Thelma Golden, artist Shirin Neshat, and art historian Kellie Jones. Photo by Lorna Simpson for Vogue via vogue.com
MAGAZINE | For March edition of Art in American magazine, Los Angeles artist Henry Taylor creates cover inspired by 1968 photo of Cicely Tyson and Miles Davis.
EXHIBITION > | “In the Tower: Theaster Gates: The Minor Arts” opens March 5 at the National Gallery of Art. Theaster Gates‘s exhibition “reorients the world around us, placing invisible labor, forgotten stories, and overlooked craft at its center.”
ART FAIR | After hosting fairs in London and Brooklyn, N.Y., 1:54 Contemporary African Art Fair announces its first edition on the African continent will be held Feb. 24-25, 2018, in Marrakech, Morocco.
AUCTION | “Spring Flowers in Washington D.C.,” a 1969 painting by Alma Thomas (1891-1978) sells for $310,000 ($387,500 including fees) setting an artist record at Los Angeles Modern Auctions on March 5.
AUCTION | On March 7, Njideka Akunyili Crosby shatters her own record when “The Beautyful Ones” (2012) sells for more than $3 million at auction at Christie’s London.
LIVES | Photojournalist Robert Sengstacke dies March 7. He was 73. Sengstacke spent his career at the black-owned Chicago Defender newspaper, which was founded by his family. He captured the arc of African American history, from civil rights icons such as Martin Luther King Jr., to major cultural and political figures.
MAGAZINE | On March 8, Vogue publishes “Artist in Residence,” a portfolio of portraits by artist Lorna Simpson. She made the images of fellow women in the art world—artists, curators, scholars—in her Brooklyn studio designed by architect David Adjaye.
ACQUISITION | On March 10, the Detroit Institute of the Arts announces the acquisition of 14 works of art by African American artists, including two major paintings by Wadworth Jarrell; photographs by Louis Draper, Anthony Barboza, Ming Smith and Adger W. Cowans; and prints by Leonardo Drew.
National Gallery of Art hosts two-day symposium (March 16-17) exploring “The African American Art World in Twentieth-Century Washington, D.C.,” featuring presentations by curators and scholars, and an unforgettable conversation among eight artists— Lilian Thomas Burwell, Floyd Coleman, David C. Driskell, Sam Gilliam, Keith A. Morrison, Martin Puryear, Sylvia Snowden, and Lou Stovall.
AWARD/HONOR | Brooklyn-based artist Jennie C. Jones who describes describing her work as “listening as a conceptual practice” is named 2017 Ruth Ann and Nathan Perlmutter Artist-in-Residence at Brandeis University’s Rose Art Museum on March 16.
EXHIBITION > | The Whitney Biennial opens on March 17, featuring artists Lyle Ashton Harris, Deana Lawson, Pope.L, and Henry Taylor, among others. Two works included in the exhibition attract particular attention—Henry Taylor’s painting of Philando Castille, who was killed in his car by police gunfire; and a painting of Emmett Till by Dana Schutz, a white artist, which provoked protests and an international dialogue about who has the right to depict black bodies.
NEWS | In response to calls from Hannah Black and others for the removal of Dana Schutz’s painting of Emmett Till in his coffin from the Whitney Biennial, Coco Fusco publishes an essay in Hyperallergic on March 27 declaring “censorship, not the painting must go.”
BARKLEY L. HENDRICKS | Artist and photographer BARKLEY L. HENDRICKS ((1945-2017) passed away in April. In the catalog for his survey “Birth of the Cool,” Hendricks wrote about self-portraiture. He said he had once heard that one’s self is a convenient subject “since you are always around.” Tribute celebrations honoring the life and work of Hendricks are held in May at the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University, which organized “Birth of the Cool,” and the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, his alma mater. “Barkley Hendricks: “Let’s Make Some History” opens at Bowdoin College Museum of Art in July. In November, a special survey of his work opens at Prospect 4 at the New Orleans Museum of Art, organized by Trevor Schoonmaker, the biennial’s artistic director and a close friend, fan, and collaborator of the artist. | Shown, “Slick (Self Portrait),” 1977 (oil, acrylic, and magna on linen canvas). © Barkley L. Hendricks. Courtesy of the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York
REPRESENTATION > | Conceptual artist and photographer Lorna Simpson joins mega-gallery Hauser & Wirth for worldwide representation (April 4).
AWARD/HONOR | Curator, critic, and art historian Okwui Enwezor wins 2017 International Folkwang Prize (April 5), presented by the Folkwang Museum in Essen, Germany. The chair of the museum describes Enwezor as “one of the world’s most influential disseminators of contemporary art” who is raising “global awareness of art beyond the Euro-American canon.”
SYMPOSIUM | Annual Jame A. Porter Colloquium on African American Art at Howard University is held April 5-9, featuring a conversation with Dawoud Bey, presentation by Sadie Barnette, lectures by Lorna Simpson and art historian Cheryl Finley, and a keynote by Fred Wilson. Gala honorees also include Bey, Wilson, Adger Cowans, Kinsasha Holman Conwill, and Kellie Jones.
AUCTION | On April 6, Africa American Fine Art sale at Swann Auction Galleries yields records for eight artists—Alvin D. Loving Jr., Frank Bowling, Sargent Johnson, Walter Williams, Timothy Washington, Leslie Garland Bolling, William Majors, and Eugene J. Martin.
APPOINTMENT | On April 10, Edward Enninful is named editor of British Vogue—the first man and first black editor to helm the fashion publication in its 100-year history. Previously, he served as fashion and creative director at W Magazine. He starts at British Vogue Aug. 1.
AWARD/HONOR | The New Yorker’s Hilton Als wins Pulitzer Prize for Criticism (April 10). Recognized for his theater reviews, Als curated “Alice Neel: Uptown” at David Zwirner and Victoria Miro galleries.
APPOINTMENT | Milton S. Curry is named dean of USC School of Architecture (April 10), the alma mater of pioneering architect Paul R. Williams. Curry assumes the post July 1.
AWARD/HONOR | New York Gov. Andrew Cuoma awards inuagural Edward Hopper Citation of Merit for Visual Artists to Carrie Mae Weems. Recognition includes an exhibition at Edward Hopper House. “Carrie Mae Weems: Beacon” is on view a the in Nyack, N.Y., site through Feb. 25, 2018.
Kara Walker graces the cover of special Art & Design issue of New York magazine (April 17-30, 2017).
ACQUISITION | Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture acquires James Baldwin Archive, including letters to Beauford Delaney who painted many portraits of the writer.
LIVES | Artist Barkley L. Hendricks (1945-2017), who was known for his realist portraits, dies on April 18. He was 72. With a practice spanning painting and photography and landscapes and figuration, he was most recognized for his powerful images of 1970s subjects whose cool poses and confident style of dress conveyed a certain attitude and hipness.
AWARD/HONOR | Chris Ofili receives royal honor at Buckhingham Palace. Announced Order of the British Empire honorees for 2017, he received a CBE or “Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire” for services to art at an investiture ceremony on April 19.
APPOINTMENT | On April 19, Roger Ferguson is appointed to Smithsonian Board of Regents for a six-year term beginning May 6. The president and CEO of TIAA is the former vice chairman of the board of governors of the U.S. Federal Reserve System.
AWARD/HONOR | Time 100 Most Influential People list published April 20 includes architect David Adjaye and artist Kerry James Marshall, plus film directors Ava DuVernay and Barry Jenkins, author Colson Whitehead, Congressman John Lewis, and singer/songwriter, musician, and producer John Legend, among many other notable cultural figures.
TALK | In an April TED Talk, artist TITUS KAPHAR posits whether we should amend history, rather than erase it, in the wake of local efforts, nationwide, to remove Confederate monuments. | Video by TED
EXHIBITION | “We Wanted a Revolution: Black Radical Women, 1965–85,” opens April 21 at the Brooklyn Museum. Described as the first-ever exhibition to present the perspectives of women of color “distinct from the primarily white, middle-class mainstream feminist movement—in order to reorient conversations around race, feminism, political action, art production, and art history,” featured artists include Camille Billops, Beverly Buchanan, Elizabeth Catlett, Jeff Donaldson, Jae Jarrell, Wadsworth Jarrell, Samella Lewis, Lorraine O’Grady, Faith Ringgold, Betye Saar, Lorna Simpson, and Carrie Mae Weems, among others.
AWARD/HONOR | Skowhegan celebrated the longstanding impact of the Studio Museum’s Artist in Residence (AIR) program at its annual awards dinner on April 25. Thelma Golden and artist William T. Williams, who envisioned the nearly 50-year-old AIR program, accepted the honor. The Maine residency program also recognized artist Jack Whitten.
NEWS | On April 27, Smithsonian’s Archives of American Art announces $575,000 grant from Henry Luce Foundation to build and strengthen its collections on African American art and artists.
AWARD/HONOR | The American Institute of Architects (AIA) recognizes trailblazing architect Paul R. Williams (1894-1980) with a posthumous AIA Gold Medal. In 1923, he became the first African American member of AIA, and later the first black member to be inducted into AIA’s College of Fellows (1957). He is also the first African American to receive the organization’s Gold Medal.
MARK BRADFORD | Representing the United States at the 2017 Venice Biennial, MARK BRADFORD presents a solo exhibition “Tomorrow Is Another Day” (May 13-Nov. 26) and launches a complementary project supporting incarcerated men and women in Venice, providing them with employment skills to smooth their transition back to society. It’s a busy year. In April, Bradford collaborates with two institutions in Denver, mounting exhibitions that pair his work with that of Clyfford Still (1904-1980). His nonprofit Art + Practice co-presents two exhibitions with the Baltimore Museum of Art: “Spiral Play: Loving in the ’80s” and “Head Back & High: Senga Nengudi, Performance Objects (1976–2015).” Then in November, the Wall Street Journal magazine announces its 2017 Innovator Awards, recognizing Bradford for his contributions to art. Finally, “Mark Bradford: Picket’s Charge,” an eight-panel work stretching more than 400 feet, opens at the Smithsonian’s Hirshhorn Museum. Installed around the entire circumference of the museum’s third floor gallery, the work is his largest to date and his first presentation in Washington, D.C. | Shown, The artist stands before “Go Tell It on the Mountain,” a 2016 mixed-media on canvas featured in his solo exhibition at the U.S. Pavillon at the 57th Venice Biennale (May 9). Photo by Awakening/Getty Images
EXHIBITION > | Kehinde Wiley departs from his depictions of young anonymous black men, and selects fellow contemporary artists as his subjects—Derrick Adams, Sanford Biggers, Rashid Johnson, Glenn Ligon, Kerry James Marshall, Wangechi Mutu (at right), Yinka Shonibare, Mickalene Thomas, Hank Willis Thomas, Carrie Mae Weems, and Nick Cave. The portraits are presented in the exhibition “Trickster,” which opens May 6 at Sean Kelly Gallery in New York.
AWARD/HONOR | On May 3, 2017 Turner Prize shortlist is announced and Hurvin Anderson and Lubaina Himid are among finalists. Both benefit from recent decision to lift age limit for qualification (and Himid ultimately wins prize in December).
NEWS | The Obamas unveil design of the Obama Presidential Center in the Jackson Park area of Chicago. Designed by husband and wife architects Tod Williams and Billie Tsien, the three building campus includes a museum.
ART FAIR | Third edition of 1:54 Contemporary African Art Fair (May 5-7) opens at Pioneer Works in Red Hook, Brooklyn, featuring 19 exhibitors presenting work by about 60 artists.
NEWS | On May 10, a year after being diagnosed with ALS, architect Phil Freelon steps down as managing director of Perkins+Will in North Carolina. Freelon was lead architect for the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture.
EXHIBITION | 2017 Venice Biennale (May 13-Nov. 28) opens with a solo show by Mark Bradford in the U.S. pavilion, African American artists Sam Gilliam, Senga Nengudi, and McArthur Binion in international exhibition, plus a Diaspora Pavilion.
AUCTION | Sotheby’s holds its first-ever auction dedicated to modern and contemporary African Art on May 16 in London. Inaugural sale yields £2.8 million (including fees) and sets records for several artists including British Nigerian artist Yinka Shonibare MBE, António Ole (Angola), Pascale Marthine Tayou (Cameroon), Ouattara Watts (Ivory Coast), Armand Boua (Ivory Coast) and Abiodun Olaku (Nigeria). SEE sales results
AWARD/HONOR | British Ghanaian architect David Adjaye received a Knighthood for his services to architecture on May 16. Part of Queen Elizabeth’s biannual honors program, he was recognized at an official Investiture ceremony at Buckingham Palace.
On May 18, Jean-Michel Basquiat’s 1982 “Untitled” image of a skull on a turquoise blue background sells for nearly $110.5 million (including fees) at Sotheby’s New York. The record-shattering sale is highest auction price in history for a work by an American artist.
AUCTION | David Hammons’s red, black, and green “African-American Flag” (1990) sold at auction for $2,050,000 (including fees) at Phillips New York on May 18.
EXHIBITION | “Project 106: Martine Syms,” the first solo museum exhibition of Los Angeles-based Martine Syms opens at the Museum of Modern Art on May 27.
APPOINTMENT | Obama Foundation announces on May 31 that Louise Bernard will serve as director of the forthcoming Museum of the Obama Presidential Center.
HENRY TAYLOR | Los Angeles artist HENRY TAYLOR is busy in 2017. He presents a series of paintings at the Whitney Biennial (March 17–June 11), most significantly an image of Philando Castile who was killed during a traffic stop by a Minnesota police officer. After the biennial concludes, the painting is acquired by the Whitney. Coinciding with the biennial, “the floaters” is installed on a billboard along the High Line. The artist’s first public art work is on view for a full year through March 2018. “I’m Yours,” a self-portrait of Taylor with his sons is featured in a new acquisitions exhibition on view at ICA Boston through February 2018. In June, “Henry Taylor: A Portrait Show” opened at Galerie Eva Presenhuber in Zurich. Taylor’s gallery Blum & Poe presented a solo exhibition of his work at the French art fair FIAC. Several paintings by the artist appear at major auction houses. Taylor achieves an artist record when a 2007 painting, “Untitled (Symbol),” sold for $301,590 (including fees) at Christie’s London on Oct. 7. Taylor graces the cover of Cultured magazine’s Summer issue, and his paintings illustrate the covers of Art in America (March) and the New York Times “T” style magazine year-end interview with Jay Z.
“Platform Africa,” the Summer issue of Aperture magazine explores African photography through a new generation of artists with an “in-depth look at the dynamic spaces that have shaped conversations about photography in Africa for the last twenty-five years—the biennials, experimental art spaces, and educational workshops in which artists and audiences interact with photography.”
APPOINTMENT | Virginia Museum of the Fine Arts (VMFA) names Valerie Cassel Oliver Sydney and Frances Lewis Family Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art. She comes from the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston where she served for 16 years, rising to senior curator.
MAGAZINE | Los Angeles-based artist Henry Taylor appears on cover of Summer edition of Cultured magazine.
MEDIA | ART21 announces “Summer of Shorts” (June 2-Aug. 9) featuring 10 films released every Friday for 10 weeks. The films profile artists including Chicago-based Theaster Gates, Jordan Casteel of New York and Canadian artist Stan Douglas.
APPOINTMENT | Cleveland Art Museum hires its first black curator since it was founded more than a century ago in 1913. On June 2, the museum names Ugochukwu-Smooth C. Nzewi curator of African Art.
AWARD/HONOR | At the close of the Whitney Biennial, the Whitney Museum of American Art names Pope.L recipient of the 2017 Bucksbaum Award.
NEWS | Kerry James Marshall, Claudia Rankine, and Leslie King-Hammond are among speakers at 2017 commencements, imparting wisdom on the next generation and encouraging graduates about the promise creativity.
NEWS | Artist Zwelethu Mthethwa is found guilty of murdering a sex worker and on June 7 is sentenced to 18 years in prison. The South African photographer is represented by Jack Shainman Gallery. According to the gallery, Mthethwa’s “portraits of men and women in their domestic or work environments are known for containing a strong psychological and narrative charge.”
ART FAIR | On June 7, Amory Show announces Naomi Beckwith will organize a curatorial leadership summit at the 2018 art fair in New York. Beckwith is a curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago.
EXHIBITION | Curated by Glenn Ligon, “Blue Black” opens at the Pulitzer Arts Foundation in St. Louis on June 9. Featuring works spanning abstraction to figuration, the exhibition “offers a lyrical meditation on the colors blue and black.”
Promising young UK artist Khadija Saye, 24,is among 71 people who die in June 14 fire in Grenfell Tower, a 24-story public housing high-rise in West London.
EXHIBITION | “Liminal Space,” opens June 17 at Caribbean Cultural Center African Diaspora Institute in New York. The exhibition explores the realities of immigration and features works by 16 artists of Guyanese descent.
NEWS | Philanthropist and art collector Agnes Gund partners with the Ford Foundation to establish Art for Justice Fund, seeding the initiative aimed at ending mass incarceration in the United States with $100 million from the sale of “Masterpiece” by Roy Lichtenstein.
EXHIBITION | BRYAN STEVENSON of the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI) introduces “The Legacy of Lynching: Confronting Racial Terror in America” (July 26-Oct. 8, 2017), a thought-provoking presentation at the Brooklyn Museum meant to generate a national dialogue about racial injustice. | Video by Brooklyn Museum
“Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power” opens at the Tate Modern in London on July 12. More than 170 works by more than 60 artists, working both individually and within collectives such as Spiral and AfriCOBRA, are presented in the show.
EVENT | Black Lunch Table hosts Wikipedia edit-a-thon on July 1 at the Brooklyn Museum in conjunction with the exhibition “We Wanted a Revolution: Black Radical Women, 1965–85.” Aimed at improving representation of black artists on the platform, the editing session is one of many organized by BLT throughout the year collaborating with cultural institutions and universities across the country. READ MORE about the initiative.
APPOINTMENT | After her appointment is announced in June, Valerie Cassel Oliver officially joins the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (VMFA) in Richmond as curator of Modern and Contemporary Art on July 7.
PRODUCT | Made available in July, Pomegranate Communications publishes 2108 wall calendar dedicated to artist Eldzier Cortor.
EXHIBITION | Presenting works by African American artists who formed collectives in the 1960s and 70s, “Art of Rebellion: Black Art of the Civil Rights Movement” opens July 23 at the Detroit Institute of the Arts.
EXHIBITION | Inspired by the work of the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI), “The Legacy of Lynching: Confronting Racial Terror in America” opens July 26 at the Brooklyn Museum. The exhibition features oral histories, a documentary, the Equal Justice Initiative’s plans for a lynching monument set to open in 2018, and works by contemporary artists including Sanford Biggers, Elizabeth Catlett, Theaster Gates, Titus Kaphar, Jacob Lawrence, Glenn Ligon, Dread Scott, Kara Walker, and Jack Whitten.
A summer of engaging programming at the California African American Museum in Los Angeles includes the unveiling of a new logo and brand identity on July 30. READ review of the new branding
NEWS | On July 28, the University of Iowa dedicates its newest and largest residence hall to artist Elizabeth Catlett (1915-2012), the first African American woman to receive an MFA from the university.
KARA WALKER | In February, KARA WALKER publishes a watercolor titled “The Crossing” in The New Yorker. She says couldn’t bear to turn on the news the day of the presidential inauguration, so she painted instead. Walker ends the year the way she began it, with a candid expression through her work. Opening in August, her fall exhibition at Sikkema Jenkins features drawings and collages created in Summer 2017 and a lengthy title and artist statement responding to the expectations and criticism of her work. A new book, “Kara Walker-MCMXCIX,” collects a selection of her sketches since 1999. Walker appears on the cover of New York magazine’s Art & Design issue (April 17-30) and is awarded a W.E.B. Du Bois Medal at Harvard in October. | Shown, Detail of “Christ’s Entry into Journalism,” 2017 (Sumi ink and collage on paper, 140 x 196 inches). Via Sikkema Jenkins
NEWS | On Aug. 3, members of the National Academy issue an open letter supporting artist Dana Schutz in response efforts by Boston activists to get ICA Boston to cancel her exhibition. Their objections stem from an early controversy over a painting Schutz made depicting Emmett Till in his coffin that was on view at the 2017 Whitney Biennial. Signatories to the National Academy letter include Dread Scott, Kara Walker, and Jack Whitten, all members-elect.
“Terry Adkins: Recital” was in development when multidisciplinary artist Terry Adkins (1953-2014) died unexpectedly three years ago. As a result, the catalog is delayed and pushed back a number of times before finally being published Aug. 11. A fitting tribute to the artist who expressed himself through music, sculpture, installations, and performance, the volume documents Adkins’s 30-year survey at the Tang Teaching Museum.
NEWS | On Aug. 15, Sikkema Jenkins Gallery issues a provocative press release and artist statement from artist Kara Walker in advance of her exhibition opening Sept. 9. A candid mix of hubris, wit, and frustration, the release describes Walker’s exhibition as “the Most Astounding and Important Painting Show of the Fall Viewing Season!”
NEWS | Columbus Museum announces formation of Alma Thomas Society, a collecting group focused on purchasing art by African Americans for the museum’s collection. The Aug. 22 news conference also included the unveiling of three new acquisitions (Amy Sherald’s “What’s different about Alice is that she has the most incisive way of telling the truth,” 2017; “Mothers,” 1970 by Reginald Gammon; and Beverly Buchanan’s “Sculpture House,” 2011) made possible by museum patrons Dan and Kathleen Amos whose initial donation spurred the institution’s commitment to expanding its holdings in African American art.
LIVES | Ruth Bonner, 100, the daughter of a slave, dies Aug. 25 in Silver Spring, Md. Along with four generations of her family, Bonner helped open Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture by ringing a historic Baptist church bell with President Obama.
DESIGN | MCA Chicago unveiled a partial renovation and new restaurant called Marisol in 2017. British artist CHRIS OFILI was commissioned to develop the color scheme, environmental design, and an immersive wall for the restaurant’s private dining room. | Shown, Detail of “The Sorceress’ Mirror,” 2017 (watercolor and charcoal on paper; 23 x 41 3/10 in.). Photo by Kendall McCaugherty © MCA Chicago
EXHIBITION > | “Jacob Lawrence: Lines of Influence” opens Sept. 7 at the SCAD Museum of Art in Savannah, Ga. Celebrating the centennial of Lawrence (1917-2000), the exhibition features works by the artist, mentors and contemporaries who impacted his practice, as well as artists working today who are influenced by his output.
EXHIBITION | For more than a century, the New York City Police Department (NYPD) has surveilled individuals and groups viewed as a threat to the status quo, including civil rights activists, the Nation of Islam, and Black Panthers. Drawing on the archives of these activities, “Unlikely Historians: Materials Collected by NYPD Surveillance Teams, 1960-75” opens Sept. 7.
NEWS | MCA Chicago unveils renovation including a new restaurant design guided by British painter Chris Ofili who also created “The Sorceress’ Mirror,” an immersive wall installation, in one of the dining spaces.
EXHIBITION | Institute of Contemporary Art Los Angeles, where Jamillah James serves as curator, opens to the public Sept. 9, with an installation by Abigail DeVille among the inaugural exhibitions.
BOOK | In September, Devin Allen publishes “A Beautiful Ghetto,” a book of photographs celebrating the people and the city Baltimore in the wake of the police killing of Freddie Gray.
EXHIBITION | “Fictions,” the Studio Museum in Harlem’s latest “F” series survey of emerging artists, opens Sept. 14 and features 19 artists including Paul Stephen Benjamin, Genevieve Gaignard, Allison Janae Hamilton, Deborah Roberts, Amy Sherald, Sable Elyse Smith, and Maya Stovall.
AWARD/HONOR | Chicago-based artist Theaster Gates wins 2018 Nasher Prize from the Nasher Sculpture Center in Dallas (Sept. 19). He will receive the award at an April 7, 2018, ceremony. Gates plans to use the $100,000 prize to acquire a Heidelberg windmill printing press and establish his own imprint.
Billed as Africa’s first modern art museum, the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa (Zeitz-Mocaa) opens to the public on Sept. 22 with great fanfare and scrutiny in Cape Town, South Africa. READ MORE about Zeitz-Mocaa
NEWS | Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture marks one-year anniversary on Sept. 24 with a weekend of special activities and programming.
NEWS | With its 50th anniversary year (2018) on the horizon, on Sept. 26, the Studio Museum in Harlem unveils plans for its new building designed by David Adjaye and a brand new website.
EXHIBITION | Part of its Princeton & Slavery Project, a campus-wide initiative examining how Princeton is directly linked to and has benefitted from slavery, the university museum presents “Making History Visible: Of American Myths and National Heroes.” Opening Sept. 26, the exhibition features works by Elizabeth Catlett, Glenn Ligon, Faith Ringgold, Kara Walker, Carrie Mae Weems, Charles White, John Wilson, and Hale Woodruff, among others, and includes “Impressions of Liberty,” a special commission by Titus Kaphar installed in front of the The President’s House, the site where six slaves were sold in 1766.
On Sept. 28, the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African Art names a new director, London-born Augustus (Gus) Casely-Hayford. He officially joins the museum in February 2018.
EXHIBITION | Following the publication last fall of “Four Generations: The Joyner Giuffrida Collection of Abstract Art” documenting the Joyner/Giuffrida collection, “Solidary & Solitary: The Joyner Guiffrida Collection” opens Sept. 30 at the Ogden Museum of Southern Art, New Orleans. The show draws from the Joyner Giuffrida holdings, presenting work from the 1940s to the present.
EXHIBITION | Julie Mehretu creates two monumental “political paintings” installed this month in the atrium of SFMOMA where they will remain on view for three years. “HOWL, eon (I and II)” inspire a collaboration with Jason Moran who develops a score based on the paintings, which is later presented at Performa 17.
KEHINDE WILEY and AMY SHERALD | Official portraits of President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama by KEHINDE WILEY and AMY SHERALD, respectively, are scheduled to be unveiled in early January 2018. The relatively young artists selected by the Obamas are the first African American artists commissioned for presidential portraits at the National Portrait Gallery. Known for his portraits of young men reinventing old European history paintings, Wiley has been stretching himself this year. In addition to taking on painting the president, he made portraits of fellow contemporary artists presented in the exhibition “Trickster” at Sean Kelly Gallery (May 6–June 17, 2017), and a new series of maritime paintings by Wiley ia on view at Stephen Friedman Gallery in London through Jan. 28, 2018. Sherald is currently featured in “Fictions,” the emerging artists show at the Studio Museum in Harlem through Jan. 15, 2018, and has a solo exhibition opening at the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis in May 2018. | Shown, From left, Amy Sherald photo © the artist; Kehinde Wiley photo by J. Countess, Getty Images
“Black Pope (Sandwich Board Man)” by Charles White (1918-1979) goes on view at the Museum of Modern Art in New York on Oct. 7. Organized by artist David Hammons, the presentation pairs White’s 1973 works with a drapery study by Leonardo da Vinci.
NEWS | U.S. Postal Service issues four Snowy Day Forever stamps on Oct. 4 paying tribute to “one of the first prominent 20th-century picture books devoted to an African American child.” “Snowy Day” was written and illustrated by Ezra Jack Keats, a white author who made a point of featuring diverse characters in his work.
AWARD/HONOR | Artist Kara Walker is honored with a W.E.B. Du Bois Medal from Harvard University’s Hutchins Center for African & African American Research on Oct. 4. She is among eight recipients of the 2017 award, including filmmaker Ava DuVernay, Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden, and Ford Foundation President Darren Walker.
AWARD/HONOR | Tony Lewis is named 2017-18 Ruth Ann and Nathan Perlmutter Artist-in-Residence at The Rose Art Museum at Brandeis University in Waltham, Mass.
AUCTION | On Oct. 7, “Untitled (Symbol),” a 2007 painting by Los Angeles artist Henry Taylor, sells for more than $300,000 (including fees) at Christie’s London, far exceeding the estimate at setting a new artist record.
AWARD/HONOR > | The MacArthur Foundation announces its 2017 “genius” fellows on Oct. 11, including Chicago-based photographer Dawoud Bey and Los Angeles-based artist Njideka Akunyili Crosby.
NEWS | On Oct. 13, the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery announces the artists chosen to paint official portraits of the Obamas for the museum. President Obama chose Brooklyn-based artist Kehinde Wiley and First Lady Michelle Obama selected Baltimore artist Amy Sherald.
PERFORMANCE | Both a performance and quiet protest, artist Sonia Clark has been unraveling the Confederate flag since 2015. On Oct. 14, she performs “Unraveling” at the Speed Art Museum in Louisville, Ky., for the first time since President Obama left office and in the wake of Charlottesville, Va., in which white nationalists and white supremacists clashed with counter protestors. READ MORE about “Unraveling.”
U.S. Postal Service celebrates Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture with the Oct. 13 issuance of new Forever stamp featuring an image of the museum’s iconic building.
EXHIBITION | Presenting works by 120 artists from 22 countries, “Making Africa: A Continent of Contemporary Design” makes U.S. debut at High Museum of Art in Atlanta on Oct. 15.
PRODUCT | Kerry James Marshall partners with MZ Wallace on a tote bag benefiting MCA Chicago. Released Oct. 15, the limited edition Metro tote features his 2009 painting “Untitled (Painter).”
EXHIBITION | “Toyin Ojih Odutola: To Wander Determined” opens Oct. 20 at the Whitney Museum of Modern Art. The exhibition is the Nigerian-born, New York-based artist’s first solo museum show in New York.
SYMPOSIUM | Inspiring Social Change conference at the Brooklyn Museum (Oct. 20-21) exploring the intersection of art and justice features Charles M. Blow, Claudia Rankine, Hank Willis Thomas, reps from the Women’s March on Washington, The Laundromat Project and National Black Theatre, and a discussion of Black Lives Matter.
The Cartier Foundation in Paris pays tribute to Malick Sidibé (1936-2016), the Malian photographer who documented the post-independence transformation of his country, with a major retrospective. “Malick Sidibé: Mali Twist” (Oct. 20, 2017-Feb. 28, 2018) features a wide selection of his black-and-white photographs dating from the 1960s when he first captured Bamako’s lively youth culture.
AWARD/HONOR | Glenn Ligon receives the Archives of American Art Medal at the institution’s annual benefit on Oct. 24. Byron Kim presents the award to Ligon. READ Ligon’s remarks
EVENT | Nearly 500 women artists, gather for a group photo at the National Museum of Women in the Arts. The image is the fourth orchestrated by “Now Be Here,” the project conceived by Kim Schoenstadt. In Washington, D.C., it is organized by Linn Meyers and photographed by Kim Johnson, and includes artists Holly Bass, Aziza Claudia Gibson-Hunter, EJ Montgomery, Sylvia Snowden, and Renée Stout, among many others.
NEWS | In the wake of Knight Landesman stepping down as co-publisher of Artforum amid accusations of sexual harassment, more than 2,000 artists, curators, scholars, writers, interns, assistants, and many others engaged in the art world sign an open letter stating “we are not surprised” by the widespread harassment they have experienced—including being groped, undermined, and intimidated—at the hands of people in positions of power. Artists Abigail Deville, Simone Leigh, Julie Mehretu, Toyin Ojih Odutola, Adrian Piper, Mickalene Thomas, and Carrie Mae Weems, are among the countless signatories.
AWARD/HONOR | Aperture magazine’s 2017 “Elements of Style” gala celebrates four artists working at the intersection of “photography, style, and human potential,” including Kwame Braithwaite, the Harlem-based photographer who advanced the positive political slogan “Black Is Beautiful.”
AWARD/HONOR | Wall Street Journal Magazine names Mark Bradford among its 2017 Innovators. Award acknowledges the Los Angeles-based artist’s banner year, including his representation of the United States at the 2017 Venice Biennial.
AWARD/HONOR | Simone Leigh is presented with the Studio Museum in Harlem’s 2017 Joyce Alexander Wein Artist Prize at the museum’s annual gala on Oct. 30.
AFRICOBRA | In the lead up to the 50th anniversary of the founding of AfriCOBRA in 2018, recognition and appreciation of the collective and its original members is evident throughout 2017. Works by AfriCOBRA artists are featured in group exhibitions including “Soul of a Nation,” “We Wanted a Revolution: Black Radical Women, 1965–85,” and “Art of Rebellion: Black Art of the Civil Rights Movement.” Kravets Wehby Gallery in New York presents works by Jeff Donaldson (1932-2004) in February. In March, the Detroit Institute of the Arts acquires two paintings and three drawings by Wadsworth Jarrell and works by the artist appear in April and October sales at Swann Auction Galleries. Gerald Williams joins Kavi Gupta over the summer, has his first exhibition with the Chicago gallery in September (his first solo show in 20 years), and presents his work for the first time at Art Basel Miami Beach in December. “Heritage: Wadsworth and Jae Jarrell” is currently on view at the Cleveland Art Museum. In 2018, Williams is curating an AfriCOBRA exhibition at Kavi Gupta, and Barbara Jones-Hogu (1938-2017) and Donaldson are getting their first solo museum exhibitions, posthumously. | Shown, WADSWORTH JARRELL, “Three Queens,” 1971 (acrylic on canvas). Courtesy Detroit Institute of Arts
Washington, D.C. artist Sam Gilliam‘s first solo exhibition in New York in nearly 25 years opens Nov. 2. “Sam Gilliam: 1967-73” at Mnuchin Gallery features examples of the artist’s beveled-edge and drape paintings.
EXHIBITION | Performa 17, New York’s live performance biennial opens Nov. 1, featuring a dynamic slate of presentations and projects by international artists. including Teju Cole, Nicholas Hlobo, Julie Mehretu and Jason Moran, Zanele Muholi, Wangechi Mutu, Jimmy Robert, Tracey Rose, and Kemang Wa Lehulere, winner of Performa’s Malcolm McLaren Award.
NEWS | London-based Art Review releases 2017 Power 100 List on Nov. 3, with Thelma Golden, director and chief curator of the Studio Museum in Harlem placing No. 8. It’s the first time a black person has ranked among the magazine’s top 10 “most influential people in the contemporary art world.”
ART FAIR | Art x Lagos in Nigeria, dubbed West Africa’s first international art fair since it was established in 2016, is held Nov. 3-5 and claims 9,000 visitors.
NEWS | On Nov. 7, the South Side Community Arts Center in Chicago is declared a National Treasure. Margaret Burroughs and Eldzier Cortor led a group of artists that established the center in 1940. It was a WPA arts facility and since its founding has played a pivotal role in supporting African American artists.
“Black Unity,” a powerful clenched fist sculpture made by Elizabeth Catlett in 1968, appears on November cover of Artforum illustrating a review of “Soul of a Nation” featured in the issue.
EXHIBIITON | “Mark Bradford: Pickett’s Charge,” the artist’s first solo exhibition in Washington, D.C., opens at the Smithsonian’s Hirshhorn Museum on Nov. 8. Inspired by a cyclorama at Gettysburg, the presentation is composed of eight paintings spanning 400 feet installed in a 360 degree gallery—Mark Bradford‘s largest work to date.
AWARD/HONOR | On Nov. 9, Studio Museum in Harlem announces three 2018 Artists in Residence Allison Janae Hamilton, Tschabalala Self, and Sable Elyse Smith.
ART FAIR | Also Known as Africa, the Paris art fair devoted to art and design from Africa is held Nov. 10-12.
APPOINTMENT | Creative Capital announces five new board members, including Michelle Coffey, executive director of the Lambent Foundation. Through funding, counsel and career development services, Creative Capital supports writers and artists working in a range of disciplines.
LIVES | Chicago artist Barbara Jones-Hogu, a co-founder of the artist collective AfriCOBRA, dies Nov. 14. She was 79. “Barbara Jones-Hogu: Resist, Relate, Unite 1968-1975,” her first-ever solo museum exhibition, opens Jan. 11, 2018, at the DePaul Art Museum in Chicago.
AUCTION > | Kerry James Marshall’s 2015 portrait of Harriet Tubman sells for more $5 million (including fees) at Christie’s New York on Nov. 15, setting an artist record.
EXHIBITION | “Prospect 4: The Lotus in Spite of the Swamp” opens Nov. 18. With Trevor Schoonmaker, chief curator of the Nasher Museum at Duke University serving at artistic director, the New Orleans triennial features more than 70 international artists including the late Barkley L. Hendricks, Derrick Adams, John Akomfrah, Sonia Boyce, Njideka Akunyili Crosby, Genevieve Gaignard, Rashid Johnson, Kahlil Joseph, Odili Donald Odita, Cauleen Smith, Hank Willis Thomas, Kara Walker, and The Kitchen Sisters with Otabenga Jones & Associates.
NEWS | On Nov. 28, the Ford Foundation and Walton Family Foundation announce collaborative effort to broaden curatorial and leadership opportunities at art museums, committing $6 million to a new campaign, the Diversifying Art Museum Leadership Initiative.
AWARD/HONOR | Creative Capital | Andy Warhol Foundation announces 2017 Arts Writers grantees. Recipients of annual awards funding articles, books, and blogs, include Hannah Black, Emmanuel Iduma, and Shaka McGlotten.
REPRESENTATION | Levy Gorvy announces its representation of the Estate of Terry Adkins (1953–2014) with plans for presenting “Terry Adkins: The Smooth, The Cut and The Assembled” in January 2018, his first exhibition with the gallery.
LUBAINA HIMID | After a long career, LUBAINA HIMID is enjoying institutional recognition. The Tanzania-born, British artist, activist, curator, and educator who got her start during the 1980s Black Arts Movement, wins the 2017 Turner Prize on Dec. 5. She is the oldest artist and first non-white woman to win the coveted UK art prize. Earlier in the year, her first solo surveys are presented: “Navigation Charts” at Spike Island in Bristol (Jan. 20-March 26, 2017) and “Invisible Strategies” at Modern Art Oxford (Jan. 21-April 30, 2017). She was also featured in “The Place Is Here” at Nottingham Contemporary (Feb. 4-April 30, 2017), a group exhibition titled after one of Himid’s works. Meanwhile, her work graces the cover of the January/February issue of Frieze magazine and also appears on the cover of the Spring/Summer edition of Afterall, a London-based journal of art, context, and enquiry. The Turner Prize exhibition is on view at Ferens Art Gallery in Hull through Jan. 7, 2018. | Photo courtesy the artist and Hollybush Gardens, Photo by Edmund Blok for Modern Art Oxford
REPRESENTATION > | Blum & Poe announces its representation of the estate of Robert Colescott (1925-2009) describing the late artist as “a proud instigator who fearlessly tackled subjects of social and racial inequality, class structure, and the human condition.” Colescott’s work is featured in two forthcoming exhibitions—“Figuring History: Robert Colescott, Kerry James Marshall, Mickalene Thomas” and a solo show organized by the Contemporary Arts Center, Cincinnati.
EXHIBITION | Photographs by Gordon Parks inspire Kendrick Lamar’s “Element” video, prompting an exhibition at the Gordon Parks Foundation. Exploring the intersection of the two artist’s work, the show presents the Parks’s photographs from several different series referenced in the video through Feb. 9, 2018.
ART FAIR | Art world descends on Miami Beach for Art Basel. In addition to the main fair, many satellite fairs and events are presented, several are dedicated to art and artists from the African diaspora. “Pascale Marthine Tayou: Beautiful” is on view at the Bass Museum of Art and “Steve McQueen: End Credits” is at Perez Art Museum Miami. Parties abound and the ACLU pairs up with the Standard Hotel for pop-up shop selling products artist-designed products to raise awareness about the deportation threats faced by young immigrants.
AWARD/HONOR | Hank Willis Thomas wins 2017 Aimia | AGO Photography Prize. Recognizing artists from around the world, the prize is billed as “Canada’s most significant award for contemporary photography.”
PUBLIC ART | On Dec. 4, City of Chicago unveils public mural by Kerry James Marshall paying tribute to 20 women who have shaped the city’s arts and culture landscape.
ACQUISITION | St. Louis Art Museum announces gift from Ronald and Monique Ollie of 81 works by African American artists.
AWARD/HONOR | Artist Lubaina Himid wins the 2017 Turner Prize on Dec. 5. A pioneer in the UK Black Arts Movement, the Zanzibar-born British artist is the first black woman to receive the prestigious British art prize and the oldest artist to earn the honor.
AWARD/HONOR | Lauren Halsey wins 2017 William H. Johnson Prize. Annual $25,000 award recognizes emerging African American artists.
APPOINTMENT | On Dec. 13, Rujeko Hockley is named co-curator of the 2019 Whitney Biennial. Hockley joined the museum as assistant curator in March.
LIVES > | Don Hogan Charles, the first black photographer hired by the New York Times, dies Dec. 15. He was 79. Recognized for his compelling images of the Civil Rights Movement, Charles captured the well-known 1964 image of Malcolm X holding a rifle while peering through a curtained window of his home.
AWARD/HONOR | The Museum of Modern Art announces Oprah Winfrey is receiving its David Rockefeller Award. The honor recognizes “an individual from the business community who exemplifies enlightened generosity and effective advocacy of cultural and civic endeavors.” The award will be presented at a luncheon in New York on March 6, 2018.
NEWS | After public complaints, a petition and threats of a boycott, Footaction announces it is backtracking on its decision to cover a mosaic mural by artist Louis Delsarte. The retailer recently moved into a Harlem storefront on the corner of 125th Street and Frederick Douglass Boulevard previously occupied by North Fork Bank. The bank commissioned the mural, titled “Spirit of Harlem,” in 2005. In updating and redesigning the facade, Footaction covered the original work of art featuring African American cultural figures from the Harlem Renaissance with a black brick wall.
SYMPOSIUM | Artist Carrie Mae Weems concludes yearlong residency at Park Avenue Armory with “The Shape of Things,” a Dec. 17 convening of artists, writers, poets, musicians, dancers, and thought leaders focused on the history of violence in the United States and its presence in contemporary society.
NEWS | Artists Glenn Ligon, Hank Willis Thomas, and Mickalene Thomas are among a group organizing an Art Action Day on Jan. 20, 2018, the one-year anniversary of the presidential inauguration. The announcement is made by The Federation, a group formed in response to the travel bans that is committed to keeping cultural borders open, fighting against the defunding the arts, and “showing the power of the arts in activism.”
Galerie Lelong announces its exclusive representation of the Estate of Mildred Thompson (1936-2003). The artist, writer, and educator who worked in abstraction is featured in the exhibition “Magnetic Fields: Expanding American Abstraction, 1960s to Today” currently on view at the National Museum of Women in the Arts.
HONOR/AWARD | On Dec. 22, Fast Co. Design names Phil Freelon Architect of the Year, labels him “America’s Humanitarian Architect. CT
CARRIE MAE WEEMS | In 2017, photographer CARRIE MAE WEEMS pursues fresh projects and opportunities focused on race, justice, and women’s identity and empowerment, issues that have driven her practice for more than 30 years. She’s featured in the groundbreaking group show “We Wanted a Revolution: Black Radical Women, 1965–8.” Being awarded the inaugural Edward Hopper Citation of Merit for Visual Artists includes an exhibition. “Carrie Mae Weems: Beacon” is on view at the Edward Hopper House in Nyack, N.Y., through Feb. 25, 2018. “Carrie Mae Weems: Ritual and Revolution” opens at Northwestern University’s Block Museum of Art in September. Collaborating with Mary J. Blige for W magazine and author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie for the New York Times T Magazine Greats issue, Weems reinvents some of her most iconic photographs. Exploring race and violence in American communities, she stages “Grace Notes: Reflections for Now,” at the Kennedy Center in October. Building on this work, Weems concludes a yearlong residency at the Park Avenue Armory with a December symposium about the history of violence and its impact on our lives today. Ebony magazine names Weems one of the most influential women of all time. | Right, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, photographed in the style of Carrie Mae Weems’s 1990 “The Kitchen Table Series.” Credit Carrie Mae Weems. Styled by Malina Joseph Gilchrist
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