ONE OF THE MOST ANTICIPATED museum exhibitions of the season, a major survey of Kerry James Marshall‘s work, primarily focused on his painting over the past 35 years, is opening at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, on April 23. In September, the exhibition will travel to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York before heading to the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles in March 2017.

This spring 2016, many other African American and African Diasporic artists are presenting innovative exhibitions in a wide span of mediums across the United States and beyond. They are interacting with their counterparts (Mark Bradford/CLyfford Still in Buffalo, N.Y.) and (Julie Mehretu/Jessica Rankin in Belgium); returning to their home states (Bethany Collins in Alabama); and creating a library bound in Dutch wax fabric to raise issues around migration (Yinka Shonibare MBE in Essex, England).

Interestingly, Theaster Gates is mounting an exhibition of black memorabilia in Austria. Gordon Parks‘s Harlem collaboration with author Ralph Ellison is being presented at the Art Institute of Chicago and images from the project are also on view in Minneapolis.

Finally, in New York, must see presentations include Steve McQueen at the Whitney Museum of Art where he is revisiting Paul Robeson’s FBI files; pianist and composer Jason Moran at Luhring Augustine; and a pair of exhibitions featuring the work of Los Angeles-based Rodney McMillan at the Studio Museum in Harlem and MoMA PS1. A selection of exhibitions follows:

JONATHAN LYNDON CHASE, “Man in Tub,” 2015 (acrylic on canvas). | Photo via Lord Ludd

1. “JONATHAN LYNDON CHASE: Rosebud” @ Lord Ludd Gallery, Philadelphia | March 19-April 17, 2016
For his first gallery exhibition, Philadelphia artist Jonathan Lyndon Chase is presenting drawings and paintings that “frame and reframe the black male subject” through an exploration of black beauty and masculinity and macho, queer love.

“The End of Eating Everything,” WANGECHI MUTU with Santigold. | Video co-released on Youtube by the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University and MOCAtv

2. WANGECHI MUTU, “SITE 20 Years/20 Shows” @ Site Santa Fe, Santa Fe, N.M. | March 19-May 22, 2016
SITE Santa Fe is celebrating 20 years by re-presenting the work of artists who have engaged with the biennial-turned-nonprofit over the past two decades. Wangechi Mutu is collaborating with Edgar Arceneaux on a site-specific drawing installation and screening, “The End of Eating Everything,” her first animated video (created in collaboration with recording artist Santigold).

Yinka Shonibare MBE, The British Library. Courtesy the artist and Stephen Friedman Gallery, London, Co-commissioned by HOUSE 2014 and Brighton Festival, Photographer  Jonathan Bassett.
YINKA SHONIBARE MBE, “The British Library,” | Courtesy the artist and Stephen Friedman Gallery, London, Co-commissioned by HOUSE 2014 and Brighton Festival, Photographer: Jonathan Bassett via Turner Contemporary

3. YINKA SHONIBARE MBE @ Turner Contemporary, Kent, England | March 22-Oct. 30, 2016
Coinciding with its fifth anniversary, Turner Contemporary is presenting two major works by Yinka Shonibare MBE, including a library of books covered in Dutch wax fabric, each spine bearing the name of an immigrant who has enriched British society.

Optimized-McMillian_2012_Couch (1)
RODNEY MCMILLIAN’s show at the Studio Museum coincides with two other exhibitions of his work currently on view at MoMA PS1 in New York and ICA Philadelphia. Above, “Couch,” 2012 (couch, cement). | Courtesy the artist and Maccarone, New York/Los Angeles

4. “RODNEY MCMILLIAN: Views of Main Street” @ Studio Museum in Harlem, New York, N.Y. | March 24-June 26, 2016
Los Angeles-based Rodney McMillian’s explores race, class and gender through painting, sculpture, video and performance. This exhibition presents for the first time a comprehensive look at a major aspect of his practice that relies on domestic symbols “to scrutinize the political and economic biases within the myth of a universal, middle-class ‘Main Street.’” The Studio Museum’s spring exhibitions also include presentations by Rashaad Newsome, Ebony G. Patterson, and about food and contemporary art.

GORDON PARKS, “Mr. And Mrs. Albert Thornton, Mobile, Alabama,” 1956. | Courtesy of and copyright The Gordon Parks Foundation

5. “GORDON PARKS: Invisible Man and Segregation Story” @ Weinstein Gallery, Minneapolis, Minn. | March 25-May 14, 2016
This exhibition presents two important bodies of work by Gordon Parks—with his friend Ralph Ellison, author of seminal novel “Invisible Man,” a collaboration for the Aug. 25, 1952 edition of Life magazine; and the photographer’s groundbreaking 1956 series of color images documenting an extended African American family living in Jim Crow-era Alabama.

Howardena Pindell (U.S.A., b. 1943), Flight/Fields, 1988–89. Lithograph, etching, and collage. Cantor Arts Center collection, Committee for Art Acquisitions Fund, 1993.4. © Howardena Pindell, courtesy Garth Greenan Gallery, New York
HOWARDENA PINDELL, “Flight/Fields,” 1988–89 (Lithograph, etching, and collage). | Cantor Arts Center collection, Committee for Art Acquisitions Fund, 1993.4. © Howardena Pindell, courtesy Garth Greenan Gallery, New York

6. “Who We Be” @ Cantor Arts Center at Stanford University, Stanford, Calif. | March 30–June 27, 2016
Inspired by Jeff Chang’s much-lauded book “Who We Be: A Cultural History of Race in Post-Civil Rights America,” this exhibition explores visual culture since 1965 through the lens of cultural, political and demographic change and considers how Americans see race today.

Installation View - Charles Gaines - Paula Cooper Gallery - Spring 2016
Installation view of new works by CHARLES GAINES at Paula Cooper Gallery, New York via Paula Cooper Gallery

7. CHARLES GAINES @ Paula Cooper Gallery, New York, N.Y. | March 31-April 30, 2016
The gallery exhibition features “Numbers and Trees: Central Park Series I,” a collection of eight new large-scale triptychs by Charles Gaines, that build on his acclaimed series, “Numbers and Trees,” which began in 1987.

Stan Douglas - The Secret Agent - 024_NW_walkthrough
STAN DOUGLAS, Detail of video still, “The Secret Agent,” 2015 (six-channel video installation, eight audio channels, 53:35 min (loop) with six musical variations, color, sound). | via David Zwirner Gallery

8. “STAN DOUGLAS: The Secret Agent” @ David Zwirner Gallery, New York, N.Y. | March 31-April 30, 2016
Filmed on location in Lisbon with local actors, this exhibition marks the U.S. debut of “The Secret Agent” (2015), Canadian artist Stan Douglas’s new multi-screen film installation along with a series of large-scale photographs.

JAYSON MUSSON, “Black Bisector,” 2016 (mercerized cotton stretched over cotton). | Courtesy the artist and Fleisher/Ollman, Philadelphia

9. “JAYSON MUSSON: The Truth in the Song” @ Fleisher Ollman Gallery, Philadelphia | April 1-May 28, 2016
Jayson Musson is presenting a new “series of Coogi sweater paintings, exploring the in-between spaces of high-art versus craft, intentional versus found abstraction, and, most significantly, the notion of ownership of African-American popular culture.”

adam pendleton - pace gallery
ADAM PENDLETON, “Black Lives Matter #2” 2015 (wall work)| | via Pace Gallery

10. “ADAM PENDLETON: Becoming Imperceptible” @ Contemporary Arts Center, New Orleans | April 1, 2016- June 16, 2016
Featuring film, wall paintings, ceramics, and silkscreens, this exhibition is Adam Pendleton’s largest solo museum presentation to date.

RODNEY MCMILLAN, “Blue sun,” 2014‑2015 (latex and ink on bed sheet). | Collection of Danielle and David Ganek.

11. “RODNEY MCMILLAN: Landscape Paintings” @ MoMA PS1, Long Island City, N.Y. | April 3 – Aug. 29, 2016
The exhibition features 12 paintings on bedsheets sourced from thrift stores by Los Angeles-based artist Rodney McMillan.

Installation view of Julie Mehretu & Jessica Rankin - Earthfold
Installation view of “Julie Mehretu and Jessica Rankin: Earthbound” at Museum Dhondt-Dhaenens. | Courtesy Museum Dhondt-Dhaenens

12. “JULIE MEHRETU and Jessica Rankin: Earthfold” @ Museum Dhondt-Dhaenens, Deurle, Belgium | April 10-June 12, 2016
This exhibition brings together the work of New York-based artists Julie Mehretu and Jessica Rankin. Both “play with the boundaries of abstract art and the momentum that occurs when lines, colours and surfaces come to depict, once again, a reality or an experience.”

READ “Earthfold” exhibition guide


Donald Locke-Village Square, 1974, wood, vinyl. ceramic, stainless steel, 15x14.5x9 inches. Courtesy Skoto Gallery
DONALD LOCKE, “Village Square,” 1974 (wood, vinyl, ceramic, stainless steel). | Courtesy Skoto Gallery

13. “DONALD LOCKE: The Plantation Series: Paintings and Sculptures from the 1970s” @ Skoto Gallery, New York, N.Y. | April 14-May 28, 2016
A selection of paintings and sculptures from the Plantations Series by Donald Locke (1930-2010) is being presented in New York for the first time. Born in Guyana, Locke was living and working in London when he created the series which “confronts tradition while absorbing the formal tenets of modernism.”

Nolan Oswald Dennis, Detail of No Conciliation is Possible
NOLAN OSWALD DENNIS, Detail of “No Conciliation is Possible I,” 2016 (ink and collage on paper). | via Goodman Gallery

14. “NOLAN OSWALD DENNIS: Furthermore” @ Goodman Gallery, Cape Town, South Africa | April 14-May 18, 2016
Nolan Oswald Dennis was born in Zambia and is based in Johannesburg. For his first solo show at the gallery “the idea of becoming” and “the ever-fluctuating conditions of time and place” are explored in drawings, inscribed wax sculptures and printed textiles.

bethany collins - lobby project - birmingham museum of arr
BETHANY COLLANS is the first artist to participate in Lobby Projects at the Birmingham Museum of Art.

15. “Lobby Projects: BETHANY COLLINS” @ Birmingham Museum of Art, Birmingham, Ala. | April 16-Aug. 7, 2016
The Birmingham Museum of Art is initiating Lobby Projects, its new program of site-specific installations with artist Bethany Collins, a native of Montgomery, Ala., who explores interactions between race and language.

Endale Desalegn - Milk and Darkness
ENDALE DESALEGN, “Milk and Darkness 5,” 2014 (oil on canvas). | Courtesy David Krut via Artsy

16. ENDALE DESALEGN @ David Krut Projects, New York, N.Y. | April 21-June 11, 2016
For his first solo exhibition at David Krut, Ethiopian painter Endale Desalegn is presenting a group of recent oil paintings that “interrogates ways in which capitalist structures mediate human dependencies on material objects – a relationship which he experiences to be fast spreading from the West into Ethiopian society.”

queen latifah - Martin Syms, details of Misdirected Kiss 2016
MARTINE SYMS, Detail of “Misdirected Kiss, 2016.” | Courtesy the artist via ICA.

17. “MARTINE SYMS: Fact & Trouble” @ Institute of Contemporary Arts, London | April 20-June 19, 2016
This exhibition features new and recent photography, video and sculpture by Los Angeles-based “conceptual entrepreneur” Martine Syms. A solo exhibition of Syms’s work is also being presented at Karma International in Los Angeles (March 9-April 23, 2016).

Isaac Julien Pas de Deux 1989-2016
ISAAC JULIEN, “Pas de Deux,” 1989/2016 | via Jessica Silverman Gallery

18. “ISAAC JULIEN: Vintage” @ Jessica Silverman Gallery, San Francisco, Calif. | April 22- June 11, 2016
British artist Isaac Julien works in photography and film. This photography exhibition features three bodies of work: “Looking for Langston” (1989), “Trussed” (1996), and “The Long Road to Mazátlan” (1999-2000).

KJM Better Homes Better Gardens 1995_77
KERRY JAMES MARSHALL, “Better Homes, Better Gardens,” 1994 (acrylic and collage on unstretched canvas). | Denver Art Museum Collection © Kerry James Marshall. Photo courtesy of the Denver Art Museum.

19. “KERRY JAMES MARSHALL: Mastry” @ Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago | April 23-Sept. 25, 2016
“An inspired and imaginative chronicler of the African American experience,” Kerry James Marshall emphasizes the importance of diversifying the art historical canon. This major survey of the Chicago-based artist’s work focuses primarily on his paintings from 1980 to present.

Above, THEASTER GATES “Tar baby, Ed William’s Collection,” 2014. | Photo by Sara Pooley. Courtesy the artist. © Theaster Gates

20. “THEASTER GATES: Black Archive” @ Kunsthaus Bregenz, Bergenz, Austria | April 23-June 26, 2016
For the first time, Theaster Gates is presenting “Negrobilia,” a collection of historical objects depicting stereotypical imagery of Black Americans. Stony Island Arts Bank in Chicago, which is operated by Gates’s Rebuild foundation, holds a collection of black memorabilia first assembled 30 years ago by Edward J. Williams. Gates is presenting original works inspired by the Williams collection. The artist says, “This show for me, and this moment in my career, is about teasing out these moments that allow black things their rightful place in the world.”

READ Black Archive exhibition guide

WATCH Video preview of Black Archive exhibition


Kia Chenelle, The Waiting Man I, 2013, Archival Inkjet Print. Courtesy of the artist
KIA CHENELLE, “The Waiting Man I,” 2013 (archival inkjet print). | Courtesy of the artist via MoAD

21. “Dandy Lions: (Re)Articulating Black Masculine Identity” @ Museum of the African Diaspora, San Francisco, Calif. | April 27-Sept. 18, 2016
This traveling exhibition features photography and film from throughout the African Diaspora that explores the style, ideology and ethnic and gender identity of men “who defy stereotypical and monolithic understandings of masculinity within the Black community.”

RADCLIFFE BAILEY, “To Be Titled,” 2016 (mixed media including iron rods, a top hat and a sculpted head). | © Radcliffe Bailey. Courtesy of the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York

22. “RADCLIFFE BAILEY: Quest” @ Jack Shainman Gallery, New York, N.Y. | April 28-June 4, 2016
Working across painting, sculpture and found photography, Radcliffe Bailey probes the complexities of identity through an exploration of ancestry and memory and better understanding history and migration. The Atlanta-based artist’s latest exhibition features new works, some of which are borne of his study of communities of escaped slaves.

JASON MORAN, “Staged: Three Deuces,” 2015 (mixed media, sound). | Photo by Roberto Marassi, Courtesy Luhring Augustine

23. JASON MORAN @ Luhring Augustine, Bushwick, Brooklyn, N.Y. | April 28-July 29, 2016
Jason Moran is showing a selection of new sculptures including two “Staged” works that were on view at the Venice Biennale last summer. The exhibition will also feature performances and Moran is launching a limited frequency jazz magazine in conjunction with the show.

“Disguise: Masks & Global African Art” preview. | Video by Brooklyn Museum

24. “Disguise: Masks & Global African Art” @ Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn, N.Y. | April 29-Sept. 18, 2016
This traveling exhibition features new works by 12 contemporary artists exploring “the impulse of disguise (whether in the form of mask, costume or camouflage) with optical illusions, street actions, computer magic, and virtual reality.”

STEVE MCQUEEN, “End Credits,” 2012 (sequence of digitally scanned files, sound, continuous projection). | Courtesy of the artist, Thomas Dane Gallery, London and Marian Goodman Gallery.

25. “Open Plan: STEVE MCQUEEN” @ Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, N.Y. | April 29-May 14, 2016
Steve McQueen is one of five artists selected to transform the Whitney Museum’s fifth-floor, a dramatic open gallery space, unobstructed by interior walls. The artist/filmmaker is presenting an expanded version of his 2012 project, “End Papers,” which explores the declassified FBI files on Paul Robeson, who was surveilled by the agency for more than two decades.

Thornton Dial - We All Live Under the Same Old Flag
THORNTON DIAL SR., “We All Live Under the Same Old Flag,” 2008 (cloth, wood, metal, enamel, and spray paint on canvas on wood). | © Thornton Dial via Marianne Boesky Gallery

26. “THORNTON DIAL: We All Live Under the Same Old Flag” @ Marianne Boesky Gallery, 509 West 24th Street, New York, N.Y. | April 30-June 18, 2016
Featuring paintings created over the past 20 years, this is the first New York exhibition of work by Thornton Dial Sr. (1928-2016) since the artist died in January.

MARK BRADFORD, Detail of “Receive Calls On Your Cell Phone From Jail,” 2013 (mixed media on canvas, 38 panels). | Courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth, New York

27. “MARK BRADFORD: Receive Calls on Your Cell Phone From Jail” @ Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis, St. Louis, Mo. | May 6-Aug. 14, 2016
This special installation is the museum debut of Mark Bradford’s “Receive Calls on Your Cell Phone From Jail,” a suite of 38 mixed-media paintings that raises issues surrounding the ability of prisoners to communicate with the outside world since many cell phone providers do not allow subscribers to receive collect calls.

IM015392 - Gordon Parks. Harlem Neighborhood, Harlem, New York, 1952. The Gordon Parks Foundation.
GORDON PARKS, “Harlem Neighborhood, Harlem, New York,” 1952. | The Gordon Parks Foundation.

28. “Invisible Man: GORDON PARKS and Ralph Ellison in Harlem” @ Art Institute of Chicago | May 21-Aug. 28, 2016
Photographer Gordon Parks and author Ralph Ellison both used their crafts to further racial justice. The friends collaborated on Harlem-based projects in 1948 and 1952. The latter illustrated scenes from Ellison’s novel “Invisible Man” and was published in Life Magazine. This special exhibition “reunites for the first time the surviving photographs and texts intended for the two projects, including never-before-seen photographs by Parks from the collections of the Art Institute and the Gordon Parks Foundation and unpublished manuscripts by Ellison.”

Mark Bradford on Clyfford Still - The Artist Project, The Met
MARK BRADFORD, who discussed Clyfford Still’s work for The Artist Project at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, continues the conversation with an exhibition at Albright-Knox that pairs Still’s paintings with his own. | Screen grab from The Artist Project video by The Metropolitan Museum of Art

29. “Shade: Clyfford Still / MARK BRADFORD” @ Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, N.Y. | May 26-Oct. 2, 2016
Advancing the conversation around Abstract Expressionism, Mark Bradford selects more than 20 paintings by Clyfford Still (1904-1980) from the Albright-Knox Gallery’s collection and presents them along with a new suite of his own paintings.

8. Puryear_Drawing for Maroon_1986 88
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.

30. “MARTIN PURYEAR: Multiple Dimensions” @ Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, D.C. | May 27-Sept. 5, 2016
This first-ever exhibition of works on paper by sculptor Martin Puryear whose unique, handmade modern works experimenting with scale, form and materials, often begin with sketches and drawings, spans half a century and presents about 70 works on paper from the artist’s own collection and 14 works from the Smithsonian American Art Museum collection.

Brooker -Present Futures IV, 2012, mixed media on wood panel, 48 x 48 inches
MOE BROOKER, “Present Futures IV,” 2012 (mixed media on wood panel). | Courtesy June Kelly Gallery

31. “MOE BROOKER: Unspeakable Joy” @ June Kelly Gallery, New York, N.Y. | May 27-June 26, 2016
June Kelly is presenting recent paintings by Moe Brooker—abstract canvases with rhythmic patterns and colorful, layered surfaces. The Philadelphia artist says his work “is about the joy of the human spirit… a deep abiding knowledge, a ‘knowing’ that is way down deep inside each person.”

Dimitri Wright - Black Couple in Bed Looking at TV 1971
DMITRI WRIGHT, “Black Couple in Bed Watching TV,” 1971 (acrylic on canvas). | Gift of the Prudential Insurance Company, 1971 © Dmitri Wright. Photo via Newark Museum

32. “Modern Heroics: 75 Years of African-American Expressionism at the Newark Museum,” Newark, N.J. | June 18, 2016-Jan. 8, 2017
Exploring heroic themes in modern and contemporary art, this exhibition features 37 works by African American artists from the Newark Museum’s collection including paintings by Emma Amos, Norman Lewis, Mickalene Thomas, Bob Thompson, and sculptures by Chakaia Booker and Thornton Dial Sr.

TOP IMAGE: KERRY JAMES MARSHALL, “School of Beauty, School of Culture,” 2012 (acrylic on canvas). | Collection of the Birmingham Museum of Art; Museum purchase with funds provided by Elizabeth (Bibby) Smith, the Collectors Circle for Contemporary Art, Jane Comer, the Sankofa Society, and general acquisition funds. Photo by Sean Pathasema


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