“What’s Goin On” (1974) by Barkley L. Hendricks


A SECOND CALIFORNIA STOP has been added to the “Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power” tour. The exhibition is headed to the de Young Museum in San Francisco, where it will open Nov. 9.

“Soul of a Nation” presents about 150 works by more than 60 black artists active between 1963-1983. The show is currently on view in Los Angeles at The Broad (March 23-Sept. 1, 2019). The de Young announced yesterday that it was adding the landmark exhibition to its fall schedule.

Organized by Mark Godfrey and Zoé Whitley at the Tate Modern in London, “Soul of a Nation” debuted in July 2017. The show spans a revolutionary period in American history and creativity during which artists responded to the unrest, change, and pride brought by the Civil Rights Movement and Black Power era.

Featured artists include Emma Amos, Benny Andrews, Romare Bearden, Elizabeth Catlett, Sam Gilliam, David Hammons, Barkley L. Hendricks, Lorraine O’Grady, Faith Ringgold, and Betye Saar, along with collectives such as Spiral, which was co-founded by Bearden, Chicago-based AfriCOBRA, and Kamoinge, the photography group established in Harlem.

Initially, “Soul of a Nation” was scheduled to travel from London to two venues in the United States—Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Ark., and the Brooklyn Museum. In August, the tour was extended when The Broad announced it was taking the show, bringing it to the West Coast for the first time.

A formidable contingent of Los Angeles artists appears in the show, figures such as Hammons, Saar, Melvin Edwards, Daniel LaRue Johnson, Senga Nengudi, John Outterbridge, Noah Purifoy, and Timothy Washington.

Plans to host the exhibition in San Francisco extend the tour schedule for a second time. The de Young said its presentation of “Soul of a Nation” will include an expanded selection of works by artists with connections to the San Francisco Bay area. Works by Emory Douglas are already included in the exhibition, with an entire section devoted to the graphic, political images he produced for the Oakland-based Black Panther Party’s newspaper.

“The artists featured in ‘Soul of a Nation’ were on the front lines of creating social and political change,” Thomas P. Campbell, director and CEO of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, said in a statement. (The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco include the de Young in Golden Gate Park and the Legion of Honor in Lincoln Park.)

“Their work changed the course of the art historical canon, and with this exhibition we continue to tell a truer, more holistic story of what American art is. The work is as relevant today as it was when created. It is my distinct honor to welcome this incredibly important exhibition to the de Young museum in San Francisco and introduce these artists to the next generation of changemakers.” CT


“Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power” will be on view at the de Young Museum in San Francisco, Nov. 9, 2019-March 8, 2020


TOP IMAGE: BARKLEY L. HENDRICKS, “What’s Goin On,” 1974 (oil, acrylic, and magna on cotton canvas, 65 3/4 x 83 3/4 in.). | © Estate of Barkley L. Hendricks. Courtesy of the artist’s estate and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York


Edited by curators Mark Godfrey and Zoé Whitley, “Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power” was published to accompany the exhibition. The catalog features essays by the curators, explores major movements and moments from Spiral to FESTAC, and includes written recollections from Samella Lewis, Edmund Barry Gaither, David C. Driskell, Jae and Wadsworth Jarrell, and Linda Goode Bryant.


BENNY ANDREWS, “Did the Bear Sit Under the Tree,” 1969 (oil paint, fabric, and zipper on canvas, 50 x 61.75 x 2.25 inches). | Private Collection, Courtesy of Michael Rosenfeld Gallery LLC, New York, NY


HERB ROBINSON, “Brother and Sister,” 1973 (). | © Herb Robinson, Image courtesy the artist


AL FENNAR, “Rhythmic Cigarettes, Greenwich Village, New York,” 1964 (gelatin silver print on paper). | All Rights Reserved © The Estate of Albert R. Fennar


CLIFF JOSEPH, “Blackboard,” 1969 (oil paint on canvas, 66 x 91.4). | Aaron Galleries, Glenview, Ill.


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