THE FALL SEASON continues with an international slate of black artists presenting new and important work in the United States and abroad. The Whitney is hosting Toyin Ojih Odutola‘s first exhibition in a New York museum. A monumental exhibition of African design is making its U.S. debut at the High Museum in Atlanta. Njideka Akunyili Crosby has a pair of shows at the Tang Teaching Museum in Upstate New York and the Baltimore Museum of Art. “The Beautiful Game” is Hank Willis Thomas‘s first solo show in the UK. Solo exhibitions featuring African American artists Al Loving, McArthur Binion, and Lezley Saar, also opened in October. Pascale Marthine Tayou‘s works are on view in Miami and Julie Mehretu has a show in Spain. Meanwhile, two exhibitions of note draw attention to groundbreaking legacies. The National Museum of Women in the Arts is celebrating the work of black women working in modern and contemporary abstraction, including Alma Thomas, Jennie C. Jones, Howardena Pindell, and Mary Lovelace O’Neal (shown above). And then in Paris, a major retrospective of Malian photographer Malick Sidibé is on view at the Cartier Foundation. A selection exhibitions opening this month follows:


HANK WILLIS THOMAS (b. 1976), “Switchski’s Syntax,” 2017 (mixed media including sport jerseys, 72 x 94 in.). | via Ben Brown Fine Arts

Hank Willis Thomas: The Beautiful Game @ Ben Brown Fine Arts, London | Oct. 5-Nov. 24, 2017

For his first solo exhibition in the UK, Hank Willis Thomas is presenting new sculptures and quilts that consider the intersection of art, sports, and geopolitics. Composed of football jerseys and Ghanaian Asafo flags, and featuring Matisse and Picasso motifs, the quilts represent a new direction in the New York-based conceptual artist’s practice.


JOHN AKOMFRAH, Still frame from “Purple,” 2017 (six-screen film installation). | © Smoking Dog Films. Courtesy Lisson Gallery via Barbicon

“John Akomfrah: Purple” @ Barbicon Center, London | Oct. 6, 2017-Jan. 7, 2018

Described as his most ambitious work to date, John Akomfrah is presenting a six-channel installation that investigates climate change. Mixing archival footage, with newly shot film, and “hypnotic” sound, he “brings a multitude of ideas into conversation. These include animal extinctions, the memory of ice, the plastic ocean and global warming.” The British artist and filmmaker won the 2017 Artes Mundi Prize.

Akomfrah’s exhibition is complemented by a series of four film screenings inspired by his work.


JULIE MEHRETU, “Co-Evolution of the Futurhyth Machine (after Kodwo Eshun),” 2013 (graphite, ink and acrylic on canvas) JM 0790.13. | Photo by Tom Powell, Courtesy the artist and Marian Goodman Gallery, Nueva York. © Julie Mehretu via Centro Botin

“Julie Mehretu: A Universal History of Everything and Nothing” @ Centro Botin, Santander, Spain | Oct. 12, 2017-Jan. 28, 2018

Ethiopian-born, New York-based Julie Mehretu is presenting 30 paintings and 60 drawings in what Centro Botin describes as her most important survey in Europe. According to the institution, “The intricate layers of Mehretu’s work echo the permanent flux of the city—war and peace, prosperity, decadence and renewal—and speak to us, fundamentally, about the individual within the complex social and political dynamics that inform the world in which we live.” Generating a conversation about the importance of her drawings in relationship to her painting practice, the included works range from “her early graphite drawings and her ink and acrylic paintings, to majestic large-scale canvases whose worked surfaces and complex architectures constructed via ink, paint, erasure, line and gesture, take on increasing depth and solidity over time.”

READ MORE about Julie Mehretu’s monumental commission currently on view at SFMoMA on Culture Type

“The intricate layers of [Julie] Mehretu’s work echo the permanent flux of the city—war and peace, prosperity, decadence and renewal—and speak to us, fundamentally, about the individual within the complex social and political dynamics that inform the world in which we live.” — Centro Botin

MILDRED THOMPSON, “Magnetic Fields,” 1991 (oil on canvas, 70.5 x 150 inches). | Courtesy of the Mildred Thompson Estate, Atlanta, Georgia; art and photo © The Mildred Thompson Estate, Atlanta, Georgia

“Magnetic Fields: Expanding American Abstraction, 1960s to Today” @ National Museum of Women in the Arts | Oct. 13, 2017-Jan. 21, 2018

The National Museum of Women in the Arts is presenting works by 21 black women artists working in abstraction from the 1960s to the present. “Magnetic Fields” spans four generations over the past century, featuring works by Chakaia Booker, Barbara Chase-Riboud, Abigail DeVille, Maren Hassinger, Jennie C. Jones, Howardena Pindell, Mavis Pusey, Sylvia Snowden, Shinique Smith, Alma Thomas, Mildred Thompson, and Brenna Youngblood, among others. On view through Jan. 21, 2018, the exhibition places their work “in context with one another—and within the larger history of abstract art.”


KARA WALKER, “Exodus of Confederates from Atlanta, from the portfolio Harper’s Pictorial History of the Civil War (Annotated), 2005 (Offset lithograph and screenprint on paper, 39 x 53 inches). | Smithsonian American Art Museum, Museum purchase through the Luisita L. and Franz H. Denghausen Endowment © 2005 Kara Walker

“Kara Walker: Harper’s Pictorial History of the Civil War (Annotated)” @ Smithsonian American Art Museum | Oct. 13, 2017-March 11, 2018

The exhibition presents a series of 15 prints by Kara Walker inspired by the two-volume Harper’s anthology published in 1866. Exploring the brutal history of slavery and racial stereotypes, themes common in her practice, she superimposes silhouettes on images from the book. “The shadowy images visually disrupt the original scenes and suffuse them with traumatic scenarios left out of the official record.” The Smithsonian American Art Museum is presenting Walker’s prints in context with the original volumes on which the works are based, both drawn from its collection.


JAN VAN RAAY, “Michelle Wallace (center) and Faith Ringgold (right) participating in Art Workers Coalition Protest at Whitney Museum,” 1971 (digital C-print). | Courtesy Jan Van Raay Portland, OR, 305-307. Copyright © Jan Van Raay via Brooklyn Museum

“We Wanted a Revolution: Black Radical Women, 1965–85” @ California African American Museum, Los Angeles | Oct. 13, 2017-Jan. 14, 2018

Organized by the Brooklyn Museum, this exhibition is presented as the first-ever to explore the perspectives of women of color “distinct from the primarily white, middle-class mainstream feminist movement—in order to reorient conversations around race, feminism, political action, art production, and art history in this significant historical period.” The contributing artists come from a variety of backgrounds and include men.


PHILEMONA WILLIAMSON, “Unexpected Blues,” 2017 (oil on linen). | via June Kelly Gallery

“Philemona Williamson: Hovering Tales” @ June Kelly Gallery, New York, N.Y. | Oct. 13-Nov. 14, 2017

The gallery is presenting new paintings by Philemona Williamson, whose colorful paintings often feature floating doll-like figures conveying elusive ideas and emotions, leaving the viewer to guess at the meaning and significance of the “enigmatic and evocative” images. This exhibition coincides with the Upper Monclair, N.J.-based artist’s first museum exhibition, on view at the Montclair Art Museum through Jan. 7, 2018.


NJIDEKA AKUNYILI CROSBY, “Predecessors,” 2013 (two works on paper, charcoal, acrylic paint, graphite, and transfer print, each panel 84 x 84 inches). | Courtesy Tate London via Tang Museum

“Opener 30 – Njideka Akunyili Crosby: Predecessors” @ Tang Teaching Museum, Skidmore College, Saratoga Spring, N.Y. | Oct. 14-Dec. 31, 2017

A 2017 MacArthur Fellow, Njideka Akunyili Crosby’s collage paintings investigate the confluence of her Nigerian upbringing, immigration to America, and life in Los Angeles. The exhibition unites for the first time her Predecessors series, a very personal body of work honoring and celebrating her family and Nigerian heritage through images of her mother and sisters, self portraits, and memories of her grandmother’s kitchen table.

READ MORE about Njideka Akunyili Crosby’s MacArthur grant on Culture Type

The exhibition unites for the first time her Predecessors series, a very personal body of work honoring and celebrating her family and Nigerian heritage through images of her mother and sisters, self portraits, and memories of her grandmother’s kitchen table.

DURO OLOWU (Nigerian, born 1965), “Look 12. Birds of Paradise,” Autumn/Winter 2013/ 2014 Collection (Cape: embroidered pure silk; Pants: silk and viscose; Top: viscose, georgette, silk). | © Photo by Luis Monteiro. Image courtesy of Duro Olowu via High Museum

“Making Africa: A Continent of Contemporary Design” @ High Museum of Art | Oct. 14, 2017-Jan. 7, 2018

Making its U.S. debut, this exhibition presents the latest in African design, featuring more than 120 artists working across photography, film, sculpture, fashion, furniture, apps, digital comics, and beyond. Bringing together political, imaginative, and whimsical works, the show “offers a vision of Africa in the twenty-first century as a place of unbounded optimism, rapid growth, and massive cultural transformation and presents the continent as a hub of experimentation that generates innovative design approaches and solutions with worldwide relevance.” Next the exhibition is traveling to the Albuquerque Museum in New Mexico and the Blanton Museum of Art in Austin, Texas.

READ MORE about the traveling exhibition


WILLIAM BULLARD, “James & Jennie Johnson Family, 1894-1918,” printed 2016 (E.132.16.10). | via Worcester Art Museum

“Rediscovering an American Community of Color: The Photographs of William Bullard” @ Worcester Art Museum, Worcester, Mass. | Oct. 14, 2017-Feb. 25, 2018

This exhibition features about 80 rare photographs of African Americans and Native American dating from around the turn of the 20th century. The previously unprinted and unpublished images were captured by William Bullard. An itinerant photographer, when he died in 1918 he left a cache of 5,400 glass negatives, including more than 230 that documented people of color primarily from the Beaver Brook community in Worcester, Mass.


MICKALENE THOMAS, “Racquel Leaned Back,” 2013 | © Mickalene Thomas. Courtesy the artist; Lehmann Maupin, New York and Hong Kong; and Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

“Muse: Mickalene Thomas Photographs and tête-à-tête” @ Georgia Museum of Art, Athens, Ga. | Oct. 14, 2017-Jan. 7, 2018

Organized by the Aperture Foundation, this traveling exhibition features more than 40 photographs by Mickalene Thomas along with a selection of images by fellow contemporary artists—including Derrick Adams, Renée Cox, LaToya Ruby Frazier, Lyle Ashton Harris, Deana Lawson, Zanele Muholi, Malick Sidibé, Xaviera Simmons, Hank Willis Thomas and Carrie Mae Weems—whose work is a source of inspiration.


With help from students, Tony Lewis installs his site-specific work, which includes countless screws and more than 19,000 graphite-dipped rubber bands.

“Tony Lewis: Plunder” @ Rose Art Museum, Brandeis University, Weltham, Mass. | Oct. 15, 2017-June 10, 2018

Chicago-based Tony Lewis is the 2017-2018 artist-in-residence at the Rose. For his first solo museum presentation in the Northeast, he worked with Brandeis students to create a site-specific “wall drawing” composed of more than 19,000 bands that explores abstraction and language—common themes of his practice.

The museum is also concurrently presenting “Auto Da Fé,” a two-channel video by British-based John Akomfrah.


AL LOVING, “Untitled,” 1982 (mixed media). | Courtesy of the Estate of Al Loving and Garth Greenan Gallery, New York via Art + Practice

Al Loving – “Spiral Play: Loving in the ’80s” @ Baltimore Museum of Art | Oct. 18, 2017-April 15, 2018

Symbolizing “life’s continuity,” the spiral-shaped works of Detroit-born Al Loving (1935-2005) represent 40 years of experimentation, pushing the possibilities of modern painting. In the 1980s, he transformed his works into three dimensional, free-form collage works inspired by the improvisation of jazz and the mixed materiality of his family’s quilting traditions. Presented in collaboration with Art + Practice in Los Angeles, the exhibition includes 12 collages.

The museum is simultaneously presenting a suite of paintings by Njideka Akunyili Crosby (below) and two multimedia works by Kara Walker and Hank Willis Thomas in its Black Box series.


THOMAS J PRICE, “Material Visions, 2016 (aluminium composite, palladium, concrete, felt, edition of 5, plus 2 artist’s proofs). | via Hales Gallery

“Thomas J Price: Material Visions” @ Hales Project Room, New York, N.Y. | Oct. 18-Nov. 22, 2017

British artist Thomas J Price is presenting recent works, including an ongoing series of figurative sculptures initiated in 2005. The exhibition explores his “use of material culture and materiality in his wider explorations of racial and social identity, perception and representation.” An outdoor installation of Price’s sculptures was recently on view at Frieze London.


EMMA AMOS, Detail of “All I Know of Wonder,” 2008 (oil on linen canvas and African fabric borders , 70 1/2 x 55 1/2 inches). | via Ryan Lee Gallery

“Emma Amos: Black Bodies” @ Ryan Lee Gallery, New York, N.Y. | Oct. 19-Dec. 16, 2017

Emma Amos was the only female and youngest member of Spiral, the collective of African American artists formed in 1963. Surveying four decades of her practice, the exhibition highlights her ongoing investigation of the black body as a source and site of power and beauty.” She lives and works in downtown Manhattan.


Trailer for “MALIK SIDIBÉ: Mali Twist” exhibition at Foundation Cartier in Paris.

“Malick Sidibé: Mali Twist” @ Foundation Cartier, Paris | Oct. 20, 2017-Feb. 28, 2018

The foundation is paying tribute to Malick Sidibé (1936-2016) with a major retrospective featuring a wide selection of his black-and-white photographs dating from the 1960s when he first captured Bamako’s lively youth culture. The Malian photographer, who documented the post-independence transformation of his country, is celebrated for his legendary studio portraits and dynamic street shots. “Mali Twist” presents a vast collection of vintage photographs and portraits from Sidibé’s archives, bringing “together for the first time his most exceptional and iconic photographs; period images he printed himself between 1960 and 1980; a selection of ‘folders’ containing his evening shots; and a series of new portraits of timeless beauty.” An exhibition catalog is being published to accompany the survey.

“Mali Twist” presents a vast collection of vintage photographs and portraits from Sidibé’s archives, bringing “together for the first time his most exceptional and iconic photographs; period images he printed himself between 1960 and 1980; a selection of ‘folders’ containing his evening shots; and a series of new portraits of timeless beauty.”

OYIN OJIH ODUTOLA (b. 1985), “Between the Margins,” 2017 (charcoal, pastel and pencil on paper). | © Toyin Ojih Odutola. Courtesy the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York

“Toyin Ojih Odutola: To Wander Determined” @ Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, N.Y. | Oct. 20, 2017-Feb. 25, 2018

Toyin Ojih Odutola is presenting her first solo museum exhibition in New York. At the Whitney, she envisions a pair of fictional aristocratic families, considering class and wealth with an emphasis on place and space in a new series of life-sized charcoal, pastel, and pencil portraits.

READ MORE about the exhibition on Culture Type


KARON DAVIS, “Nicotine,” 2016 (Plaster, cloth, oil paint, synthetic hair, clothing, wire, shredded bills, coffee cup, wood, mirror & cigarette). | via Baltic

“Starless Midnight” @ Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art, Gateshead, UK | Oct. 20, 2017-Jan. 21, 2018

Marking the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr., being awarded an honorary degree by Newcastle University, this group show includes Barby Asante, Louis Cameron, Season Butler, Karon Davis, Charles Gaines, Micol Hebron, Kenyatta A.C. Hinkle, Ashley Holmes and Cauleen Smith. The artists are contributing works that respond to the legacy of King within the framework of our contemporary political moment. Featuring a selection of new commissions, the show is curated by Edgar Arceneaux. Los Angeles-based Arceneaux is also presenting at Baltic, “Until, Until, Until,” his re-staging Ben Vereen’s controversial blackface performance at Ronald Reagan’s 1981 inaugural celebration.


KAPWANI KIWANGA, Still from “The Sun Never Sets,” 2017 (video installation). | via Instagram

“Kapwani Kiwanga: The Sun Never Sets” @ Goodman Gallery, Johannesburg | Oct. 21-Nov. 18, 2017

Canadian-born, Paris-based Kapwani Kiwanga’s practice spans performance, video, sculpture and installation. Her first solo exhibition in Africa explores the politics of colonialism. It’s “a contemplative analysis of nature and the human histories it belies,” including a video installation from which the exhibition takes its title.


NJIDEKA AKUNYILI CROSBY, “Home: As You See Me,” 2017 | © Njideka Akunyili Crosby. Courtesy the artist and Victoria Miro, London. Photography Brian Forrest

“Front Room: Njideka Akunyili Crosby – Counterparts” @ Baltimore Museum of Art | Oct. 25, 2017-March 18, 2018

Los Angeles-based Njideka Akunyili Crosby is presenting a new suite of paintings that visually and materially explore the intersection of her Nigerian heritage and family memories with her contemporary experiences and relationships in America. Recently named a 2017 MacArthur Fellow, she employs a mix of paint, fabric, and photographic transfers to depict her figures and interiors.


LEZLEY SAAR (1953-), “22) Therese Raquin, from 22) Therese Raquin Madwoman in the Attic Series,” 2011 (mixed media on canvas, 46 x 36 inches). | via CAAM

“Lezley Saar: Salon des Refusés” @ California African American Museum, Los Angeles | Oct. 25, 2017-Feb. 18, 2018

The title of the exhibition translates to “Salon of the Rejected,” referencing an 1863 Paris exhibition organized by artists excluded from the official Paris Salon—an important annual show that could determine the fate of an artist’s career. Working with paint, fabric, photographs, and found objects, Los Angeles-based Saar considers issues such as hybridity, identity, and acceptance through “depiction of persons outside the realm of what is commonly believed to be ‘normal’—be it defined in physical, mental, neurological, sexual, or racial terms.”

Working with paint, fabric, photographs, and found objects, Lezley Saar considers issues such as hybridity, identity, and acceptance through “depiction of persons outside the realm of what is commonly believed to be ‘normal’—be it defined in physical, mental, neurological, sexual, or racial terms.”

MCARTHUR BINION, “route one: box two: X,” 2017 (oil stick, ink, and paper on board, 40 x 48 inches). | via Galerie Lelong

McArthur Binion – “Route One: Box Two” @ Galerie Lelong, New York, N.Y. | Oct. 26-Dec. 23, 2017

This exhibition of new work features McArthur Binion’s largest painting to date. The Chicago-based artist is expanding upon his series of abstract DNA paintings, a group of works in which he embeds copies of his most personal documents such as his birth certificate. The title of the exhibition references the address of Binion’s “birth house” in Macon, Mississippi.


STAN DOUGLAS, Overview Downspark Queensdown (video still), 2017 | © the artist, courtesy Victoria Miro

Stan Douglas @ Victoria Miro Gallery, Mayfair, London | Oct. 26-Dec. 20, 2017

Vancouver-based Stan Douglas is presenting a new large-scale photographs documenting London riots in 2011, including a protest in Tottenham after the police shooting of Mark Duggan. The images are the first in series of works documenting global uprisings beginning in the 2010s in the wake of the Arab Spring. According to the gallery, “To create the panoramic mise-en-scènes on display, Douglas has conducted intensive research, mining sources including contemporary aerial news reports and still images. He also chartered a helicopter to fly over the locations, meticulously combining his own footage with media images to reconstruct moments frozen at specific points in the unfolding disturbance.”


DERRICK ADAMS, “Floater 51 (Donut with Sprinkles),” 2017 (acrylic paint, pencil and fabric on paper, 50×50 inches). | via UTA Artist Space

“Derrick Adams: Repose” @ UTA Artist Space, Los Angeles, | Oct. 28-Dec. 9, 2017

The latest show of Brooklyn-based Derrick Adams presents acrylic works on paper with collage from his ongoing “Floater” series. The images convey a simple, poignant message: black people are joyful, they like to decompress, swim and lounge in pools. According to the gallery, the body of work “explores ideas of celebration, highlighting the Black figure in the context of contemporary culture and leisure. With a nod to cultural perseverance, the display gives perspective to the creative output and outlet of Black Americans as a reaction to the joys and struggles of just being.”


PASCALE MARTHINE TAYOU, “Masque délavé,” 2015 (wood, mixed media). | Image courtesy the artist and Galleria Continua, Photo by Rémi Lavalle via Bass Museum

“Pascale Marthine Tayou: Beautiful” @ Bass Museum of Art, Miami | Oct. 29, 2017-April 2, 2018

Pascale Marthine Tayou’s “work fluidly transforms and recasts the viewer’s understanding of materials, objects, and narratives.” The Cameroon-born, Belgium-based artist is transforming the galleries of the museum, presenting his own work from the past decade in context with a selection of works from the Bass collection, along with a site-specific lobby installation greeting visitors with a “welcome” message in 70 languages lit with LED lights. CT


TOP IMAGE: MARY LOVELACE O’NEAL, “Racism is Like Rain, Either it’s Raining or it’s Gathering Somewhere,” 1993 (acrylic on canvas, 86 x 138 inches). | Mott-Warsh Collection, Flint, Michigan; © Mary Lovelace O’Neal via National Museum of Women in the Arts


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