A NUMBER OF EXHIBITION FIRSTS coincide with Black History Month this year. “Royal Flush,” Nina Chanel Abney’s first solo museum show opens Feb. 16 at the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University. In February, South African artist Nicholas Hlobo is presenting his first exhibition in Sweden. Major works by British artists Yinka Shonibare MBE and Steve McQueen are debuting in the United States. The Cleveland Museum of Art and Virginia Museum of Fine Arts are showcasing black and white images by important photographers who documented African American communities during the civil rights era through 1980. Exhibitions featuring Alice Neel and Jean-Michel Basquiat offer rarely explored aspects of their practices. Meanwhile, after presenting his installation “Library of Black Lies” (2016) at MIT’s List Visual Arts Center, Los Angeles artist Edgar Arceneaux is premiering the work on the West Coast. A selection of February exhibitions featuring African American artists follows:


KARA WALKER, “The Emancipation Approximation (Scene #18),” 1999 – 2000 (screen print; Edition of 20). | Collection of the Jordan Schnitzer Family Foundation, © 2016 Kara Walker

“Emancipating the Past: Kara Walker’s Tales of Slavery and Power” @ University Museum of Contemporary Art, University of Massachusetts, Amherst | Feb. 2-April 30, 2017
A primer on Kara Walker’s practice, this traveling exhibition examines America’s shameful history of race, gender, power and exploitation in the antebellum South through 60 works in a range of mediums, including three narrative series—”The Emancipation Approximation” (1999–2000), “Harper’s Pictorial History of the Civil War: Annotated” (2005), and “An Unpeopled Land in Uncharted Waters” (2010).

HANK WILLIS THOMAS, “Are You the Right Kind of Woman For it?,” 1974. | Photographer unknown, Original ad: The Mistress by Funky


“Hank Willis Thomas: Unbranded: A Century of White Women, 1915–2015” (Part 2) and “Unbranded: Reflections in Black by Corporate America 1968-2008” @ York College Galleries, York, Pa. | Feb. 3-March 11, 2017
York College is presenting a full complement of Hank Willis Thomas’s images exploring race and gender representation in vintage consumer advertising. “Unbranded: A Century of White Women 1915 – 2015” (Part 1) opened last month and is on view through Feb. 18.

EDGAR ARCENEAUX, Installation view of “Library of Black Lies.” | Photo by Elon Schoenholz, Courtesy Main Museum of Los Angeles


“Edgar Arceneaux: Library of Black Lies” @ Main Museum of Los Angeles Art, Los Angeles | Feb. 4-March 26, 2017
This presentation is the West Coast debut of Los Angeles-based Edgar Arceneaux’s installation “Library of Black Lies,” which “challenges the narrative of American progress, and in particular, African American progress through the selection, placement, and modification of books in a library of his own invention.”

GORDON PARKS, “Untitled, Washington, D.C.,” 1963 | Photography by Gordon Parks © The Gordon Parks Foundation

“Gordon Parks. I am you. Selected Works 1942 – 1978” @ Versicherungskammer Kulturstiftung, Munich, Germany | Feb. 8-May 7, 2017
Whether photographing blacks in Harlem, the March on Washington, high-fashion models, children or cowboys, Gordon Parks’s images spoke volumes about his subjects and the human condition. Spanning 35 years, this exhibition features about 180 photographs demonstrating his narrative strengths.

LORNA SIMPSON, Detail of “Hypothetical?” 1992 (photograph, text, instrumental mouthpieces and sound). | Whitney Museum of American Art, Promised gift of Emily Fisher Laundau via Fisher Landau Center for Art


“Lorna Simpson: Hypothetical?” @ Fisher Landau Center for Art, Long Island City, N.Y. | Feb. 9-Aug. 7, 2017
“Hypothetical?,” Lorna Simpson’s sound installation including text, a photograph and mouthpieces from wind instruments was first presented at the 1993 Whitney Biennial and marked a pivotal transition in her practice. The work is presented along with several of the artist’s photo-text pieces made in the years immediately prior to the sound installation.

Installation view of “MICKALENE THOMAS: Mentors, Muses, and Celebrities” at Aspen Art Museum | via Spelman Art Museum


“Mickalene Thomas: Mentors, Muses, and Celebrities” @ Spelman College Museum of Fine Art, Atlanta, Ga. | Feb. 9—May 20, 2017
Black female power, representation and identity are central to Brooklyn-based Mickalene Thomas’s practice. Here she considers the subject through photography, film and video.

RASHID JOHNSON, “Waves,” 2016 (white ceramic tile, black soap, wax, vinyl, spray enamel). | © The artist Courtesy Hauser & Wirth


“Rashid Johnson: Hail We Now Sing Joy” @ Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, Kansas City, Mo. | Feb. 9-May 21, 2017
Taking its title from a jazz composition by Joseph Jarman, this exhibition draws on Rashid Johnson’s “Fly Away” presentation at David Zwirner Gallery in New York, last year.

KEHINDE WILEY, “Anthony of Padua,” 2013 (oil on canvas). | Seattle Art Museum; gift of the Contemporary Collectors Forum, 2013.8. © Kehinde Wiley. Photo by Max Yawney, Courtesy Roberts & Tilton, Culver City, Calif.


“Kehinde Wiley: A New Republic” @ Toledo Museum of Art, Toledo, Ohio | Feb. 10-May 14, 2017
Organized by the Brooklyn Museum, this traveling exhibition features about 60 paintings and sculptures surveying Kehinde Wiley’s 14-year career.

“Basquiat in the apartment,” 1980. | Photo by Alexis Adler

“Basquiat Before Basquiat: East 12th Street, 1979-1980” @ Museum of Contemporary Art Denver, Colo. | Feb. 11-May 14, 2017
Before he gained recognition as an artist, Jean-Michel Basquiat lived for a year with his friend Alexis Adler on the Lower East Side. This exhibition features a cache of materials from that time, artwork and photographs she took of Basquiat, documenting his creative concepts and performances as he explored ideas.

The exhibition opening included a panel discussion with DREAD SCOTT, and a complementary group show is on view featuring five artists exploring “the costs of empire, erasure and the reverberations of marginalized histories.” | Photo courtesy Guerrero Gallery


“Dread Scott. Past, Present & Future” @ Guerrero Gallery, San Francisco | Feb. 11-March 4, 2017
The gallery is presenting “A Man was Lynched by Police Yesterday” and “Imagine a World Without America, two works by Dread Scott that were on view last summer at Jack Shainman Gallery. The New York-based artist displayed the flag in the wake of the police killings of Alston Sterling in Baton Rouge, La., and Philando Castile near St. Paul, Minn., the next day. The world map image, sans the United States, was featured on the cover of the November 2016 issue of Artforum.

DAVID DRISKELL is professor emeritus of art at the University of Maryland, College Park, where he established the David C. Driskell Center for the Study of the Visual Arts and Culture of African Americans and the African Diaspora. | Photo via CMCA


“David Driskell: Renewal and Form” @ Center for Maine Contemporary Art, Rockland, Maine | Feb. 11-June 4, 2017
This exhibition features prints by David Driskell inspired by his childhood in the rural South and landscapes in Maine, where he has spent summers since 1961.

NINA CHANEL ABNEY, “Untitled (Yo 123),” 2015 (unique ultrachrome pigmented print, spray paint, and acrylic on canvas). | Private collection. Courtesy of Kravets Wehby Gallery, New York, New York. © Nina Chanel Abney


“Nina Chanel Abney: Royal Flush” @ Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University, Durham, N.C. | Feb. 16-July 16, 2017
“Royal Flush” is Nina Chanel Abney’s first solo museum exhibition and features about 30 paintings, collages and watercolors produced over the past decade.

READ MORE about “Nina Chanel Abney: Royal Flush” on Culture Type


LOUIS DRAPER, “Boy and H, Harlem (Stickball), 1960 (silver print ). | Image via Swann Auction Galleries


“A Commitment to the Community: The Black Photographers Annual, Volume I” @ Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond, Va. | Feb. 16-Oct. 3, 2017
Between 1973 and 1980, a group of African American photographers in New York published four volumes of The Black Photographers Annual. This exhibition, the first of four presentations highlighting each volume, features 20 images by Anthony Barboza, Roy DeCarava, and Louis Draper, among others.

Installation view of STEVE MCQUEEN, “Ashes,” 2002–15, at Marian Goodman Gallery, Paris, 2016. | Courtesy the artist, Marian Goodman Gallery, New York/Paris, and Thomas Dane Gallery, London. © 2016 Steve McQueen. Photo by Rebecca Fanuele


Steve McQueen: Ashes @ Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston | Feb. 15, 2017-Feb. 25, 2018
Acquired by the museum last June and making its U.S. debut, filmmaker Steve McQueen’s video installation “Ashes” was lauded at the 56th Venice Biennale in 2015.

YINKA SHONIBARE MBE, Detail of “The British Library,” 2014. (hardback books, Dutch wax printed cotton textile, gold foiled names, five wooden chairs, five iPads, iPad stands, headphones, interactive Application and antique wind-up clock; Dimensions variable). | via James Cohan Gallery


“Yinka Shonibare MBE: Prejudice at Home: A Parlour, a Library, and a Room” @ James Cohan Gallery, New York, N.Y. | Feb. 17-March 18, 2017
The gallery is presenting three major works exploring “otherness” by British-Nigerian artist Yinka Shonibare—the installation “The Victorian Philanthropist’s Parlour” (1996-97), the photo suite “Dorian Gray” (2001), and the U.S. debut of the artist’s large-scale work, “The British Library” (2014).

FRED EVERSLEY, “Untitled,” 1976 (cast polyester resin). | Rose Art Museum, Brandeis University. Photo by Charles Mayer

“Fred Eversley: Black, White, Gray” @ Rose Art Museum, Brandeis University, Waltham, Mass. | Feb. 17–June 11, 2017
Los Angeles-based Fred Eversley is an engineer turned artist. The exhibition, a collaboration with Art + Practice where it was first on view, features his cast resin sculptures from the early 1970s.

MICHAEL ELLISON, “Outside In,” 1986 (print). | The Larry D. and Brenda A. Thompson Collection of African American Art


Michael Ellison: Urban Impressions @ Georgia Museum of Art, Athens, Ga. | Feb. 18-May 21, 2017
Featuring works from the museum’s Larry D. and Brenda A. Thompson Collection of African American Art, this exhibition presents a selection of 1980s and 90s block prints depicting scenes from Atlanta by Michael Ellison (1952-2001), an educator and printmaker in the city.

SAYA WOOLFALK, “Single channel HD Video projection (continuous loop),” 2017 (acrylic gouache on wood Projection). | via Leslie Tonkonow Artworks + Projects


“Saya Woolfalk: ChimaCloud and the Pose System” @ Leslie Tonkonow Artworks + Projects, New York, N.Y. | Feb. 16-April 1, 2017
For her latest exhibition, New York-based multidisciplinary artist Saya Woolfalk explores the shifting and evolving nature of culture through new works spanning video animations, life-sized humanoid figures, real and virtual sculptural objects, textiles, and drawings in vinyl and on paper.

ALICE NEEL, “The Black Boys,” 1967 (oil on canvas). | The Tia Collection via David Zwirner


“Alice Neel, Uptown,” Curated by Hilton Als @ David Zwirner, New York, N.Y. | Feb. 23-April 22, 2017
Among the many portraits of family, friends, neighbors, creatives, activists, and students by Alice Neel, are paintings of African Americans and other people of color she knew and admired in her neighborhood. Curated by New Yorker writer Hilton Als, this exhibition features works painted over a span of five decades.

BRENNA YOUNGBLOOD, Detail of “Uncle Grandpa,” 2017 (mixed media). | Courtesy the artist and Tilton Gallery, New York

“Brenna Youngblood: Affection” @ Tilton Gallery, New York, N.Y. | Feb. 23-April 8, 2017
Recipient of the 2015 Gwendolyn Knight | Jacob Lawrence Prize, Brenna Youngblood is known for her mixed media abstract paintings. For this exhibition, the Los Angeles-based artist is presenting a new body of work exploring love and loss.

DERRICK ADAMS, “Don’t Come for Me Unless I Send for You,” 2016/17 | via Rhona Hoffman Gallery

“Derrick Adams: Tell Me Something Good” @ Rhona Hoffman Gallery, Chicago | Feb. 24-April 1, 2017
For his latest exhibition, Derrick Adams, the winner of the Studio Museum in Harlem’s 2016 Joyce Alexander Wein Artist Prize, continues his exploration of the ways in which television mediates the American experience and defines and commodifies black culture.

NICHOLAS HLOBO, “Umrhubuluzi,” 2010. | © Nicholas Hlobo, Norlinda and José Lima Collection, Courtesy of Stevenson, Cape Town/Johannesburg and Lehmann Maupin, New York/Hong Kong.


“Nicholas Hlobo: Zawelela ngale” @ Uppsala Art Museum, Uppsala, Sweden | February 25—May 14, 2017
Featuring early and new works, South African artist Nicholas Hlobo’s first exhibition in Sweden takes its title from the Xhosa phrase “Zawelela ngale,” meaning “They have crossed to the other side,” which he interprets literally and metaphorically.

READ MORE about Nicholas Hlobo on Culture Type


LEONARD FREED, “Girls Embracing, New York,” c. 1965 (gelatin silver print). | The Cleveland Museum of Art, Mr. and Mrs. Richard W. Whitehill Art Purchase Endowment Fund 2016.274. © Louis H. Draper Preservation Trust via Cleveland Museum of Art


“Black in America: Louis Draper and Leonard Freed @ Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland, Ohio | Feb. 26-July 30, 2017
Through the lens of a Louis Draper, a black fine art photographer, and Leonard Freed, a white photojournalist, this exhibition presents two views of the African American experience during the civil rights era.

Do you enjoy and value Culture Type? Please consider supporting its ongoing production by making a donation. Culture Type is an independent editorial project that requires countless hours and expense to research, report, write, and produce. To help sustain it, make a one-time donation or sign up for a recurring monthly contribution. It only takes a minute. Many Thanks for Your Support.