WITH A NEW YEAR UNDERWAY and a compelling selection of new books, exhibitions and events on the horizon, here is what to look forward to in African American and African diasporic art—the most-anticipated happenings and artists to watch in 2016:


henry taylor - mistake room
After spending January at the historic residence of a Mexican muralist, Henry Taylor will present the work he has produced in a special exhibition. | Image via The Mistake Room

Henry Taylor Residency in Mexico, January

EXHIBITION | Henry Taylor Residency @ The Mistake Room Guadalajara (Jan. 30-April 2, 2016): Los Angeles-based Henry Taylor is the first artist participating in TMR Guadalajara, the Mistake Room’s new yearlong residency-based initiative in Mexico’s second largest city. Known for his figurative abstraction, Taylor will spend January living and working at Museo Taller Jose Clemente Orozco (the historic former residence and workshop of the late Mexican muralist) and, at the end of the month, the works produced during that time will be presented in an exhibition in the space.


Last fall, Los Angeles-based Martine Syms directed an episode about Afrofuturism on the KCET television program ARTBOUND. | Photo courtesy KCET

Martine Syms at The Broad, January

PERFORMANCE | “Tip of Her Tongue: Martine Syms ‘Misdirected Kiss,'” @ The Broad (Jan. 21): Los Angeles-based artist Martine Syms is on the rise and climbing. She describes herself as a conceptual entrepreneur who works in mediums spanning video, performance and publishing (her imprint is Dominica). In 2015, she participated in the New Museum Triennial; presented work at Pomona College where she was a visiting lecturer; directed an episode about Afrofuturism on the KCET television program ARTBOUND; and at Bridget Donahue Gallery, “Vertical Elevated Oblique,” her first solo gallery show was reviewed positively by Artforum, ARTnews, and Art in America. This year, she is continuing to push her practice, beginning with a performed lecture, “Tip of Her Tongue: Martine Syms ‘Misdirected Kiss,'” at the new Broad museum in Los Angeles.


mickalene thomas - Quanikah Goes Up - 136550
MICKALENE THOMAS, “Quanikah Goes Up,” 2001/2005 (c-print). | © Mickalene Thomas. Courtesy the artist; Lehmann Maupin, New York and Hong Kong; and Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York via Lehmann Maupin

Mickalene Thomas Photographs at Aperture, January

EXHIBITION | Muse: Mickalene Thomas Photographs and tête-à-tête @ Aperture (Jan. 28-March 17, 2016): Recognized for her large-scale, mixed-media, rhinestone embellished paintings, Mickalene Thomas‘s latest exhibition is dedicated to her photography. Aperture describes Thomas’s work as functioning as “a personal act of deconstruction and reappropriation—both of images she has created herself and images she has singled out as influence.” The accompanying catalog is the first to gather photographic images by Thomas, including portraits, collages, Polaroids, and other processes. IN THE FALL, Thomas will have an exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art Los Angeles.


betye saar - to the manner born
BETYE SAAR, “To the Manor Born,” 2011 (mixed media assemblage). | Courtesy the artist and Roberts & Tilton, Culver City, California. © Betye Saar via Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art

Betye Saar Retrospective Mounted Stateside, January

EXHIBITION |”Betye Saar: Still Tickin'” @ Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art, Scottsdale, Ariz. (Jan. 20-May 1, 2016): After originating in the Netherlands, Betye Saar‘s first European solo museum show is coming to the United States. Throughout her six-decade career, Los Angeles-based Saar has “crafted compelling, astute and expressive artworks that bravely critique forms of everyday racism, sexism and oppression while simultaneously celebrating the curiosity and beauty to be found in everyday objects.” The exhibition features early and more recent works—assemblage, works on paper, and a number of specially constructed installations.


ALMA THOMAS, “Deep Red Roses Chant,” 1972 (acrylic on canvas). | Courtesy Michael Rosenfeld Gallery, New York via Tang Museum

Groundbreaking Alma Thomas Retrospective, February

EXHIBITION | Alma Thomas @ Tang Museum at Skidmore College, Sarasota Springs, N.Y. (Feb. 6-June 5, 2016): This groundbreaking exhibition assembles major paintings from public and private collections including many rarely shown works by Alma Thomas (1891-1978), the first African American woman to have a solo exhibition at the Whitney Museum (1972). Described as “a reexamination of Thomas’ career, and the evolution of her highly personal style from the earth tones of the 1950s to the abstract geometries of the late 1960s and early 1970s,” this show is her first museum retrospective since 2001. The exhibition is co-organized by the Studio Museum in Harlem where it will be on view in Summer 2016. A major catalog will accompany the exhibition, the first publication to comprehensively consider Thomas’s work since 1998.


JEAN_BELLEY by Omar Victor Diop
Portrait of Jean Belley. Photo by Omar Victor Diop via Black Portraiture

Black Portraitures at New York University, February

CONFERENCE | “Black Portraiture[s] II: Revisited” @ New York University (Feb. 19-20, 2016): A conference and exhibition, Black Portraiture[s] explores the historic and contemporary role of art, photography, film and literature in presenting images of the black body in the West. This two-day event in New York revisits the 2015 gathering in Florence, Italy, that coincided with the 56th annual Venice Biennale. Reconstructing a selection of panels, this latest iteration will consider diverse notions of the “black portrait while challenging conventional perspectives on identity, beauty, cosmopolitanism, and community in Africa and its diaspora.”


From left, Yvette Mutumba and Julia Grosse, founders of Contemporary And, are curating a presentation of contemporary African Art at the Armory Show. | Photo by Benjamin Renter, Courtesy the Armory Show

Armory Focus on Africa, March

ART FAIR | 2016 Armory Focus: African Perspectives @ The Armory Show, New York, N.Y. (March 3-6, 2016): Each year Armory Focus, the invitational section of the New York’s marquee art fair, explores a different region of the world. This year the spotlight is on Africa under the curation of Yvette Mutumba and Julia Grosse, founders of Contemporary And, a Berlin-based platform for international art from African perspectives. “Moving beyond conventional ideas of the African continent and its ‘counterpart,’ ‘the Western hemisphere,’ …Focus will examine the artistic developments and manifold narratives arising from African and African Diasporic artists, emphasizing geographic fluidity and global connections,” and feature more than a dozen galleries.


david hammons - orange is the new black - mnuchin gallery
DAVID HAMMONS, “Orange is the New Black,” 2014 (mixed media) via Mnuchin Gallery

Half a Century of David Hammons, March

EXHIBITION | David Hammons: Five Decades @ Mnuchin Gallery, New York, N.Y. (March 15-May 27, 2016): Mnuchin Gallery is mounting a career survey of David Hammons, exploring the entire arc of his practice, from the late 1960s in Los Angeles to the present in New York, with the artist’s support. This exhibition is the first to show the work of Hammons on this scale in more than two decades. Examples from his major series over the years (including body prints, found object assemblages, basketball chandeliers, basketball drawings, Kool-Aid drawings, and tarp paintings) will be featured and a fully illustrated catalog authored by Kellie Jones, a professor of art history and archeology at Columbia University, will accompany the exhibition.


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For her first exhibition at the Studio Museum in Harlem, Ebony G. Patterson will consider violence against young people of color. | Patterson shown in 2015 installing work at the John Michael Kohler Arts Center in Sheboygan, Wis., 2015. Photo Courtesy John Michael, Kohler Arts Center

Ebony G. Patterson at Studio Museum in Harlem, March

INSTALLATION | Ebony G. Patterson: “… when they grow up …” @ Studio Museum in Harlem, New York, N.Y. (March 24-June 26, 2016): For her first exhibition at the Studio Museum in Harlem, Ebony G. Patterson is creating a site-specific, mixed-media installation addressing the violence committed against young people of color, including children killed by police. The exhibition will features hand-embellished images of youth in combination with elements associated with childhood and race. According to Patterson, “These children are often described as adults. Their blackness overrules the presumption of innocence.”


who we be - cover
The exhibition “Who We Be” is inspired by “Who We Be: A Cultural History of Race in Post-Civil Rights America,” the award-winning book by Jeff Change.

Cultural History of Race Considered, March

EXHIBITION | “Who We Be” @ Cantor Center for the Arts at Stanford University (March 30–June 27, 2016): This timely and innovative exhibition explores visual culture since 1965 through the lens of cultural, political and demographic change. “From the Watts uprising to the #BlackLivesMatter movement, from multiculturalism through hip­hop to the reception of post­-identity art,” it considers how Americans see race today. Inspired by Stanford faculty member Jeff Chang’s much lauded book “Who We Be: A Cultural History of Race in Post-Civil Rights America,” the exhibition features art from the Cantor collection, selections from the Stanford Institute for Diversity in the Arts, as well as loaned works.


adam pendleton - pace gallery
ADAM PENDELTON has created a new series of Black Lives Matter paintings made with a low-tech “painting machine.” | via Pace Gallery

Adam Pendleton in New Orleans, April

EXHIBITION | “Adam Pendleton: Becoming Imperceptible” @ Contemporary Art Center New Orleans (April 1-June 16, 2016): Featuring film, wall paintings, ceramics, silkscreens, “Becoming Imperceptible” is Adam Pendleton‘s largest solo museum exhibition in the United States. Central to the exhibition are found images that “serve as bedrock for Pendleton’s artistic practice and connect his form of abstraction with the history of the America Civil Rights Movement, the pre-war Avant-Garde, La Nouvelle Vague in film, and Minimalist and Conceptualist art practices of the 1960s.”


kerry james marshall
A new definitive monograph on Kerry James Marshall (Skira Rizzoli, 288 pages) published April 19, 2016, accompanies a major retrospective organized by the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, opening April 23, 2016

Kerry James Marshall Monograph, Major Retrospective, April

BOOK & EXHIBITION | Kerry James Marshall definitive monograph and “Kerry James Marshall: Mastry,” a major retrospective: The practice of Chicago-based painter Kerry James Marshall is based on recasting the art history canon with representations of black people and black narratives. Published to coincide with “Kerry James Marshall: Mastry,” a major traveling retrospective organized by the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago (April 23-Sept. 25, 2016), this long-awaited volume includes images of more than 100 paintings—portraits, landscapes and interiors—from throughout Marshall’s 35-year career and essays by the artist, Elizabeth Alexander, and Helen Molesworth, among others.


carrie mae weems - kitchen table series
“Carrie Mae Weems: Kitchen Table Series” (Damiani, 86 pages) Published April 26, 2016, hardcover

Carrie Mae Weems Kitchen Table Series, Grace Notes, April/June

BOOK & PERFORMANCE | Renowned Kitchen Table photography series published in April and “Grace Notes: Reflections for Now” @ Spoleta Festival USA, Charleston, S.C. (June 4-5, 2016): It has been more than 25 years since Carrie Mae Weems produced The Kitchen Table Series (1990). Among her most important bodies of work, the images consider domesticity, women’s circumstances, and their relationships with lovers, friends and children. Exploring gender and power roles in an intimate familial setting, the series features Weems herself depicting an archetype and the book includes all 20 images and text panels from the series. AT THE SPOLETA FESTIVAL USA in CHarleston, S.C., Weems directs a special performance bringing together artists from a variety of disciplines. An “immersive” experience of music, song, text, spoken word, and video projection, Weems asks “What is the role of grace in the pursuit of democracy?”


gordon poarks and ralph ellison in harlem
In the late 1940s and early 1950s, Gordon Parks and Ralph Ellison worked together on two projects documenting Harlem.

Gordon Parks and Ralph Ellison Collaboration, April

BOOK | “Invisible Man: Gordon Parks and Ralph Ellison in Harlem” (Steidl Dap, 128 pages) Published April 26, 2016: Photographer Gordon Parks was friends with author Ralph Ellison and the two collaborated on a couple of projects, Harlem photo essays published in full for the first time in this book. “Harlem Is Nowhere” (1948), focused on the first integrated psychiatric clinic in New York, and “A Man Becomes Invisible,” appeared in the Aug. 25, 1952, edition of Life magazine, after the publication of “Invisible Man.” A selection of the photographs in this volume were on view in “Contact: Gordon Parks, Ralph Ellison, and ‘Invisible Man,’” a 2012 exhibition at Howard Greenberg Gallery in New York that was curated by artist Glenn Ligon.


Steve McQueen is presenting “End Papers” as a part of Open Plan, a five-part exhibition presented on the fifth floor of the Whitney Museum of American Art, a dramatic open gallery space, unobstructed by interior walls. | Photograph by Nic Lehoux, 2015

Steve McQueen at Whitney Museum, April

EXHIBITION | Open Plan: Steve McQueen @ Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, N.Y. (April 29-May 14, 2016): Last May, the Whitney Museum of American Art opened its new Renzo Piano-designed building in New York’s Meatpacking District with striking views of the Hudson River and the city. For Open Plan (Feb. 6-May 14, 2016), the museum has invited five artists including Steve McQueen to utilize the dramatic unobstructed space in its fifth floor galleries, being revealed for the first time since the Whitney debuted. Both a visual artist and filmmaker McQueen’s presentation, “End Papers” a new expanded version of his work about the FBI file kept on Paul Robeson, opens April 29.


The 12th edition of Dak’Art in Senegal will focus on “Contemporary African Art and Aesthetics of Translations.”

African Art Biennial in Dakar, May

BIENNIAL | Dak’Art: Biennale of Contemporary African Art, Dakar, Senegal (May 6-June 9, 2016): Established in 1992, Dak’Art is “a platform for contemporary art with cultural roots in Africa.” Focusing on visual art, design and digital arts, the 12th edition of the Biennale of Contemporary African Art, is curated around the theme “Contemporary African Art and Aesthetics of Translations.” Simon Ndjami, an independent curator, art critic and lecturer, is serving as artistic director of this year’s monthlong event. Born in Nigeria, Njami was guest curator of the traveling exhibition “The Divine Comedy: Heaven, Purgatory, and Hell Revisited by Contemporary African Artists,” recently on view at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African Art in Washington, D.C., and is co-founder of Revue Noire, a journal of contemporary African and extra-occidental art.


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MARTIN PURYEAR, “Drawing for Maroon,” 1986/88 (black Conté crayon, with smudging, over graphite,
on ivory wove paper). | Courtesy of the artist. © Martin Puryear, Courtesy Matthew Marks Gallery.

Martin Puryear at Smithsonian, May

EXHIBITION | Martin Puryear: Multiple Dimensions @ Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, D.C. (May 27-Sept. 5, 2016): After opening at the Morgan Library and Museum in New York, this first-ever exhibition of works on paper by sculptor Martin Puryear will travel to the Art Institute of Chicago (Feb. 5-May 3, 2016), which organized the exhibition. Then it is headed to the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C., where the works will be on view at the American Art Museum. Puryear’s unique, handmade modern works experimenting with scale, form and materials, often begin with sketches and drawings. Spanning half a century, this exhibition presents about 70 works on paper drawn from the artist’s own collection, along with a selection of prints and sculptures related to the drawings. In addition, a fully illustrated catalog accompanies “Multiple Dimensions.” WATCH VIDEO about exhibition.


terry adkins - recital cover
First expected in 2014, publication of “Terry Adkins: Recital” has been delayed due to the artist’s untimely death.

Terry Adkins Career-Spanning Volume, June

BOOK | “Terry Adkins: Recital” (Prestel, 224 pages) Published June 14, 2016: An interdisciplinary conceptual artist and musician, this volume is the first to survey the three-decade career of Terry Adkins and complements his retrospective “Recital.” Conceived as a theatrical score that punctuates and demarcates space, creating interplay among pieces in different media and from diverse bodies of work,” the exhibition channeled pivotal figures including W.E.B. Du Bois, Bessie Smith, John Brown, Matthew Henson and Jimi Hendrix, exploring lesser-known aspects of their biographies. This forthcoming volume, has been delayed a few times in the wake of Adkins untimely death in February 2014. The definitive volume is now expected in June.


nmaahc design by david adjaye
DAVID ADJAYE, Rendering of Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture. | Photo Adjaye Associates

Smithsonian African American Museum Debuts, September

OPENING | National Museum of African American History and Culture, Washington, D.C., Fall 2016: The Smithsonian’s forthcoming National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) describes itself as “a place where all Americans can learn about the richness and diversity of the African American experience.” Originally scheduled to debut in 2015, the museum is now slated to open in September 2016. A century in the making, federal legislation approving the construction of NMAAHC was signed in 2003 and the project finally broke ground in 2012. Architect David Adjaye serves as the lead designer for the museum which will include an important collection of visual art—paintings, sculpture, works on paper, installations, photography, and digital media—by and about African Americans.


Photo by Sandro
Chicago-based artist Nick Cave. | Photo by Sandro

Nick Cave at Mass MoCA, October

EXHIBITION | “Nick Cave: Until” @ Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (Mass MoCA), North Adams, Mass. (Opening Oct. 16): Chicago-based artist Nick Cave is creating his largest work to date, an immersive installation that will consume a football field-sized gallery. Composed of thousands of found objects, millions of beads, and not one of his signature Soundsuits, “Until” addresses some of today’s most poignant issues, from gun violence and gun control policies to race relations and gender politics. The installation will serve as a platform for a yearlong engagement spanning music, dance and poetry, performances and public discussions.


For his debut exhibition in Washington, D.C., Mark Bradford is installing a 360-degree work, his largest ever, at the Hirshhorn Museum.

Mark Bradford at Hirshhorn Museum, November

EXHIBITION | Mark Bradford @ Hirshhorn Museum, Washington, D.C. (November 2017): Los Angeles-based artist Mark Bradford will take full advantage of the unique cylindrical structure of the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, D.C., installing a suite of site-specific paintings on the second floor of the Smithsonian museum where the work will occupy the entire circumference of the curved galleries. The exhibition is Bradford’s first in Washington. Scheduled to be unveiled on November 2017, the new 360-degree work will be the largest Bradford has ever created inddors and the special presentation marks the first time a single artist has been given carte blanche to use the entire expanse of the museum’s inner-ring gallery.

UPDATE/CORRECTION: Mark Bradford’s installation at the Hirshhorn Museum is scheduled for next year, November 2017.


Lonnie Holley - Ruling for the Child - Met Museum
LONNIE HOLLEY, “Ruling for the Child,” 1982 (investment casting materials). | © Lonnie Holley. Gift of Souls Grown Deep Foundation from the William S. Arnett Collection, 2014 via Metropolitan Museum of Art

Southern Black Artists at Metropolitan Museum, Fall

EXHIBITION | Works from Souls Grown Deep @ Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, N.Y., Fall 2016: In November 2014, the Met acquired 57 contemporary works—paintings, drawings, and mixed-media sculpture—by Southern African American artists including Thornton Dial, Lonnie Holley, and Nellie Mae Roe, among others. The gift from the Souls Grown Deep Foundation in Atlanta also included 20 quilts made by women of Gee’s Bend, Ala. The works embody a tradition of creative expression that likely began during slavery and only came to be publicly shared and recognized in the mid-20th century during the Civil Rights Movement. This fall, the museum is devoting an exhibition to the works and will publish a catalog to accompany the presentation. CT


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