Installation view of “Frank Bowling: Make It New” at Alexander Gray Associates


TEN DAYS AGO, “Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power” opened at the Brooklyn Museum. The groundbreaking traveling show “shines light on a broad spectrum of Black artistic practice from 1963 to 1983, one of the most politically, socially, and aesthetically revolutionary periods in American history.” This fall, two more New York museums are presenting major exhibitions dedicated to African American artists—both are solo shows.

In Manhattan, “Charles White: A Retrospective” will be on view at the Museum of Modern Art beginning Oct. 7, and at The Met Breuer, “Odyssey: Jack Whitten Sculpture 1963-2017” opened earlier this month. Charles White and Jack Whitten are among the artists represented in “Soul of the Nation.” Additional artists with works featured in the monumental exhibition are the focus of solo shows at galleries throughout the city.

Frank Bowling and Lorraine O’Grady are showing at Alexander Gray Associates. Ed Clark is at Mnuchin. Works by Noah Purifoy are on view at Tilton Gallery, which is also presenting a parallel show “East Coast/West Coast” with works by Clark, David Hammons, John Outterbridge, Betye Saar and Timothy Washington. Meanwhile, a group presentation at Michael Rosenfeld Gallery, “Truth & Beauty: Charles White and His Circle,” centers around White and also includes works by Hammons, Saar, and Outterbridge, among many others.

“Soul of the Nation” features some of the most thought-provoking and consequential artists making work, decades ago, in response to the Civil Rights, Black Power, and Black Feminism movements. (A good number are still working today.) The smaller, complementary shows foreground individual artists and offer an opportunity to see a wider selection of their works, gain a deeper understanding of their practices, and consider the arc of their careers.


BARKLEY L. HENDRICKS, (American, 1945-2017), “Blood (Donald Formey),” 1975 (oil and acrylic on canvas, 72 x 50 ½ inches / 182.9 x 128.3 cm). | Courtesy of Dr. Kenneth Montague I The Wedge Collection, Toronto. © Estate of Barkley L. Hendricks. Courtesy of the artist’s estate and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York. Photo by Jonathan Dorado, Brooklyn Museum

Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power @ Brooklyn Museum | Sept. 14–Feb. 3, 2019

More than 150 works by 60 artists, working both individually and within collectives such as Spiral and AfriCOBRA, are presented in this show, which is dedicated to one of the most revolutionary periods in American history. Works produced between 1963 and 1983 by Benny Andrews, Romare Bearden, Dawoud Bey, Elizabeth Catlett, David Hammons, Barkley L. Hendricks, Wadsworth Jarrell and Jae Jarrell, Faith Ringgold, and Jack Whitten, among others, are featured. After its presentation at the Brooklyn Museum, “Soul of a Nation” will travel to The Broad in Los Angeles.


FRANK BOWLING, “Elder Sun Benjamin,” 2018 (acrylic on collaged canvas, 119.29h x 203.54w inches / 303h x 517w cm). | via Alexander Gray Associates

Frank Bowling: Make It New @ Alexander Gray Associates, New York, N.Y. | Sept. 6–Oct. 13, 2018

Painter Frank Bowling, whose practice is “defined by its integration of autobiography and postcolonial geopolitics into abstraction,” joined Alexander Gray Associates earlier this year. His first exhibition with the gallery features 10 recent works made between 2016-2018. Born in British Guyana, Bowling splits his time between studios in New York and London. The Tate Britain his hosting a major retrospective of his work in 2019.


JACK WHITTEN, Detail of “Lucy,” 2011 (black mulberry, mixed media, Phaistos stone, mahogany, metal I-beam). | Courtesy the artist

Odyssey: Jack Whitten Sculpture @ The Met Breuer, New York, N.Y. | Sept. 6-Dec. 2, 2018

Known for his mixed-media paintings, Jack Whitten (1939–2018) made sculptures for more than half a century, primarily at his summer home in Crete. This exhibition presents 40 of the artist’s previously unknown sculptures in conversation 16 works from the museum’s collection, along with 18 paintings by Whitten (including his entire Black Monolith series dedicated to important African American cultural figures).


CHARLES WHITE (1918-1979), Untitled (Two Women), circa 1950 (oil on canvas, 24 x 30 1/8 inches). | via Michael Rosenfeld Gallery

Truth & Beauty: Charles White and His Circle @ Michael Rosenfeld Gallery, New York, N.Y. | Sept. 7-Nov. 10, 2018

Works by Charles White and artist friends he developed relationships with in Chicago, New York, and Los Angeles are presented in “Truth & Beauty.” The 20-plus artists in his orbit include Betye Saar, David Hammons, Roy DeCarava, Norman Lewis, Archibald Motley, and John Outterbridge, whose work is on view in “Soul of a Nation,” as well as Eldzier Cortor, Jacob Lawrence, Kerry James Marshall, Gordon Parks and Hale Woodruff. The show features four paintings and 13 drawings by White made between 1935-1973.


NOAH PURIFOY, “Black, Brown, and Beige (After Duke Ellington), 1989 (mixed-media construction, 68 x 113 x 4 inches). | via Tilton Gallery

Noah Purifoy and East Coast/West Coast: Clark, Hammons, Outterbridge, Saar, Washington @ Tilton Gallery, New York, N.Y. | Sept. 11-Nov. 3, 2018

Tilton has mounted two exhibitions. The presentation dedicated to Noah Purifoy is his first-ever solo show on the East Coast. A pioneer in the California assemblage movement who was active in the Black Arts Movement in Los Angeles, Purifoy decamped to Joshua Tree in 1989. The works on view were made while he living in Joshua Tree and in the years immediately prior to his move. “East Coast/West Coast,” the small, accompanying group show features artists who were in Purifoy’s circle in Los Angeles—Ed Clark, David Hammons, John Outterbridge, Betye Saar and Timothy Washington.


Installation view of “Ed Clark: A Survey,” Mnuchin Gallery, Sept. 14-Oct. 20, 2018. | Photo by Tom Powell Imaging via Mnuchin Gallery

Ed Clark: A Survey @ Mnuchin Gallery, New York, N.Y. | Sept. 14-Oct. 20, 2018

A master of Abstract Expressionism, Ed Clark’s hallmarks include working with shaped canvases and making paintings on the floor using a broom to push the paint. Nearly 40 years ago, the Studio Museum in Harlem presented a retrospective of the artist. The first overview of his career since the Harlem show (1980), “Ed Clark: A Survey” features paintings and works on paper spanning 1962-2013.


CHARLES WHITE (American, 1918–1979), “General Moses (Harriet Tubman),” 1965 (ink on paper, 47 × 68 inches, 119.4 × 172.7 cm). | Private collection. © The Charles White Archives. Photo courtesy Swann Auction Galleries

Charles White: A Retrospective @ Museum of Modern Art, New York, N.Y. | Oct. 7–Jan. 13, 2019

Exploring the full arc of his career, this is the first comprehensive survey dedicated to Charles White (1918-1979) in more than three decades. Spanning the 1930s until his death in 1979, the exhibition features more than 100 works, including drawings, paintings, and prints, in addition to illustrated books, record covers, and archival materials. Following its presentation at MoMA, the retrospective will travel to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art in Spring 2019.


LORRAINE O’GRADY, “Cutting Out CONYT 03,” 1977/2017 (Letterpress printing on Japanese paper, cut-out, collage on laid paper – Diptych, each: 41.75h x 30w inches overall: 41.75h x 60w inches). | Courtesy Alexander Gray Associates, New York. © 2018 Lorraine O’Grady / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Lorraine O’Grady: Cutting Out CONYT @ Alexander Gray Associates | Oct. 25–Dec. 15, 2018

Forty years ago, Lorraine O’Grady clipped the pages of Sunday editions of the New York Times (June 5-Nov. 20, 1977) and used the word fragments to create 26 collage poems. Cutting Out CONYT (1977/2017) revisits the original series. Each individual work is reimagined and refined and made into a new “haiku diptych.” O’Grady says the new body of work “embraces the mysterious intertwinings of narrative and politics, post-blackness and blackness in a way that Cutting Out The New York Times could not accomplish or even imagine.” She also has solo shows at MFA Boston and the SCAD Museum of Art this season. CT


TOP IMAGE: Installation view of “Frank Bowling: Make It New,” Alexander Gray Associates, New York, N.Y. (2018). Shown, From left, “Drift I” and “Drift II,” both 2017 (acrylic on printed canvas). | via Alexander Gray


Edited by curators Mark Godfrey and Zoe Whitley, “Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power” was published to accompany the exhibition. “Jack Whitten: Odyssey: Sculpture 1963–2017” documents the exhibition. The Museum of Modern Art and Art Institute of Chicago co-published a fully illustrated exhibition catalog, featuring contributions by Kerry James Marshall, Kellie Jones and Deborah Willis, to accompany the Charles White retrospective. “Frank Bowling: Mappa Mundi” explores the arc of the artist’s 60-year career, including his celebrated “map paintings.” This fully illustrated volume coincided with “Noah Purifoy: Junk Dada” sweeping survey that explored his expansive life and career. Mnuchin Gallery published a catalog to accompany “Ed Clark: A Survey.”


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