Special Exhibition
Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power 1963-1983
Mar 23 - Sep 01, 2019
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Overview

Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power shines a bright light on the vital contribution of Black artists made over two revolutionary decades in American history, beginning in 1963 at the height of the civil rights movement. The exhibition examines the influences, from the civil rights and Black Power movements to Minimalism and developments in abstraction, on artists such as Romare BeardenBarkley HendricksNoah PurifoyMartin PuryearFaith RinggoldBetye SaarAlma ThomasCharles White, and William T. Williams. Los Angeles-based artists appear throughout Soul of a Nation, and more deeply in three specific galleries, foregrounding the significant role of Los Angeles in the art and history of the civil rights movement and the subsequent activist era, and the critical influence and sustained originality of the city’s artists, many of whom have lacked wider recognition.

Featuring the work of more than 60 influential artists and including vibrant paintings, powerful sculptures, street photography, murals, and more, this landmark exhibition is a rare opportunity to see era-defining artworks that changed the face of art in America.

The Broad is offering free admission to Soul of a Nation every Thursday from 5-8 p.m. (last entry at 7 p.m.) during the exhibition’s run. Families attending The Broad’s Family Weekend Workshops in May and June will receive complimentary access to Soul of a Nation and participate in artmaking workshops inspired by the works on view in the exhibition. From February through July, the museum will host hundreds of students in grades 6-12 for free through its Art+Story and Art+Rhyme programs, which helps children explore art through creative writing and poetry. For information on how to bring school groups to The Broad, please check the School Visits page.

This exhibition is organized by Tate Modern, London in collaboration with The Broad, Los Angeles, Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, Arkansas and Brooklyn Museum, New York. Curated by Mark Godfrey, Senior Curator, International Art and Zoe Whitley, Curator, International Art, Tate Modern. The Broad presentation is curated by Sarah Loyer, Associate Curator and Exhibitions Manager.

Image Credit: Barbara Jones-Hogu, Unite (First State), 1971. Screenprint. © Barbara Jones-Hogu

Timeline

A Select Timeline for the Age of Black Power

On view on the first floor, Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power celebrates the dynamic contributions of Black artists during a pivotal period in American history from 1963 to 1983. The civil rights movement made crucial progress toward equality by 1963. Yet racist violence persisted, and people began to question the movement’s pacifist strategy. Some leaders spoke of a separate, autonomous Black Nation, while struggles for freedom peaked worldwide. A vital demand developed in response to ongoing injustices and inequities, informed by a groundswell of pride in cultural heritage: a call for Black Power.

During this turbulent era, artists engaged in robust debates on the role of art. Many discussed what it meant to be a Black artist in the era of civil rights and its aftermath, but some rejected definitions altogether. While championing strong communities and rigorous artistic dialogues, the artists in Soul of a Nation were profoundly aware of these political visions and different senses of self, and each took an aesthetic position in relation to them.

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Highlighted Artwork

A Boy in front of the Loew’s 125th Street Movie Theater
Dawoud Bey
1976, printed by 1979
Photograph, gelatin silver print on paper
20 7/8 x 18 7/8 x 1 1/4 in.
Black Unity (detail)
Elizabeth Catlett
1968
Cedar
21 in. × 12 1/2 in. × 23 in.
Couple walking
Roy DeCarava
1979
Photograph, gelatin silver print on paper
27.9 x 35.6 in.
Mississippi freedom marcher, Washington D.C.
Roy DeCarava
1963
Photograph, gelatin silver print on paper
Wives of Sango
Jeff Donaldson
1971
Paint, foil, and ink on cardboard
36 1/4 x 25 9/16 in.
Black First, American Second
David Hammons
1970
Body print and screenprint on paper
104.8 x 79.4 in.
Unite (First State)
Barbara Jones-Hogu
1971
Screenprint
Black Children Keep Your Spirits Free
Carolyn Lawrence
1972
Acrylic on canvas
49 x 51 x 2 in.
Rainbow Mojo
Betye Saar
1972
Acrylic painting on cut leather
19 3/4 x 49 3/4 in.


Playlist

It's an absolute honor to have been asked to curate a playlist in connection with Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power, “which shines a light on the art created by African Americans during a revolutionary two decades in American history, beginning at the height of the civil rights movement.” You've got to know where you come from, in order to get where you want to go, and without that knowledge, we are in danger of repeating history: and I don't mean the good parts. I hope you enjoy these incredibly rich and beautiful creations by some of the artists who paved the way!Quincy Jones

Music has always been a driving vehicle of change in the struggle for equality since the early civil rights and Black Power movements of the ‘60s and ‘70’s. It provided inspiration to the visual artists in Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power 1963 – 1983. In celebration of this landmark exhibition, The Broad asked the legendary Quincy Jones to curate a playlist that gives voice to the struggle for equality and the passion, anger, and hope for a new America.


press

Please visit our Press page for press releases and to register for a newsroom account to access high res images of the exhibition and the museum.

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