Wednesday, 19 May 2010
'AFRO MODERN: JOURNEYS THROUGH THE BLACK ATLANTIC' AT TATE LIVERPOOL, CURATED BY TANYA BARSON
Aaron Douglas paintings from the 1930's
Maya Dern's 'Divine Horsemen, The Living Gods of Haiti', 1947-1951
Rubem Valentim (right)
Wilfredo Lam's paintings, 1940's
Gordon Park's photographs
Helio Oiticica's Parangoles
Chris Ofili, David Hammons
Afro-Modernism: Journeys through the Black Atlantic
29 January – 25 April 2010
Afro-Modernism: Journeys through the Black Atlantic takes its inspiration from Paul Gilroy’s seminal book The Black Atlantic: Modernity and Double Consciousness (1993). The exhibition is the first to trace in depth the impact of Black Atlantic culture on visual Modernisms from the early twentieth century to today. From the appropriation of African art by Modernist artists such as Picasso, the Black Atlantic modernism of Aaron Douglas and craze for black culture embodied by Josephine Baker, by way of the créolité (creoleness) of artists such as Wilfredo Lam, to the work of contemporary artists including Kara Walker, Ellen Gallagher and Chris Ofili, the exhibition will reflect how artists around the Atlantic have negotiated both the language of Modernism and black cultures and histories in diverse and complex ways.
In 1993 Paul Gilroy coined the term ‘The Black Atlantic’ to describe a ‘counterculture of modernity’ as well as a fusion of Black cultures with other cultures from around the Atlantic. His book had an enormous impact on the ways Black culture has been perceived and discussed within the field of cultural studies, stimulating ongoing critical debates. Afro-Modernism: Journeys through the Black Atlantic reflects this idea of the Atlantic Ocean as a ‘continent in negative’, a network of cultures encompassing Africa, North and South America, the Caribbean and Europe and traces real and imaginary routes taken by artists across the Atlantic from 1909 to today.
Liverpool’s location as a gateway to the Atlantic and the history and legacy of its involvement in slavery makes this exploration of Black Atlantic culture pertinent to the city and museum. The dispersal of people of Black African descent – many forcibly displaced by the slave trade – had a profound impact on art and culture that has been frequently overlooked or diminished. The exhibition is divided into seven chronological chapters, ranging from early 20th century avant-garde movements such as the Harlem Renaissance to current discussions addressing ‘Post-Black’ art. It opens up an alternative, transatlantic reading of Modernism and its impact on contemporary culture. Afro-Modernism: Journeys through the Black Atlantic features work by artists including Romare Bearden, Constantin Brancusi, Edward Burra, Renee Cox, Aaron Douglas, Walker Evans, Ellen Gallagher, David Hammons, Isaac Julien, Wilfredo Lam, Jacob Lawrence, Norman Lewis, Glenn Ligon, Ronald Moody, Wangechi Mutu, Uche Okeke, Hélio Oiticica, Pablo Picasso, Keith Piper, Tracey Rose and Kara Walker.
Afro-Modernism: Journeys through the Black Atlantic has been conceived and developed by Tanya Barson, Curator of International Art at Tate Modern and is curated by Tanya Barson and Peter Gorschlüter, Head of Exhibitions and Displays at Tate Liverpool. The exhibition will be accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue with texts by recognised scholars in the field including Petrine Archer-Straw, Kobena Mercer, Huey Copeland and Glenn Ligon, Manthia Diawara and Edouard Glissant, and Courtney J. Martin.