A 2021 WALL CALENDAR showcasing the work of jazz age modernist Archibald Motley (1891-1981) serves as a reminder that Black institutions were the first to collect the work of African American artists in a meaningful way.

“Barbeque” (1934) appears on the cover of the calendar. One of Motley’s famous genre scenes, the painting belongs to Howard University Gallery of Art. Works from the collections of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in Harlem, Chicago’s South Side Community Art Center, and Hampton University Museum are also represented.


Cover Image: ARCHIBALD MOTLEY, “Barbeque,” circa 1934 (oil on canvas, 39 x 44 inches / 99.1 x 111.76 cm). | © Valerie Gerrard Browne, Collection of the Howard University Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.


Motley is recognized for his depictions of cultural life in Black Chicago and Paris. Dating from 1926 to 1941, a dozen paintings made between the first and second world wars illustrate the calendar.

The Motley calendar is a new entrant in the annual line up of African American art calendars that has gained momentum in the past couple of years. The increased number of offerings parallels broadening interest in African American art among museums, collectors, scholars, critics, and curators.

The Archibald Motley calendar is a new entrant in the annual line up of African American art calendars that has gained momentum in the past couple of years. The increased number of offerings parallels broadening interest in African American art among museums, collectors, scholars, critics, and curators.

Calendars celebrating Ernie Barnes, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Romare Bearden, and Charles White are being reprised for 2021 with new examples of their work. The Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture has also published another art calendar.

In addition, 2021 brings calendars documenting African American art in the collection of the Detroit Institute of Arts and the “Harlem Renaissance and Beyond” among the holdings at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. Works by Benny Andrews and Bearden, respectively, cover these calendars.

Meanwhile, a selection of works by African American artists is represented within major museum calendars highlighting an array of artists.

Bearden and Haitian painter Hector Hyppolite are included in the Museum of Modern Art’s Modern Art 2021 calendar, keeping company with Vincent Van Gogh, Sonia Delaunay-Terk, Pablo Picasso, Edward Hopper, and Claude Monet, among others.

MoMA’s Modern Women 2021 calendar features Julie Mehretu and Faith Ringgold among the likes of Georgia O’Keeffe, Louise Nevelson, Joan Mitchell, Florine Stettheimer, and Lee Krasner.

At the Smithsonian, Amy Sherald‘s portrait of First Lady Michelle Obama covers the Treasures from the Smithsonian Engagement Calendar 2021, a yearlong journey illustrated with 57 artworks from the institutions many museums and galleries.

For 2021, there are at least eight wall calendars dedicated entirely to African American art. Available now, they offer monthly celebrations of White’s unparalleled draftsmanship, Basquiat’s iconic symbolism, and the vibrant and mesmerizing cultural scenes of Motley. The lack of gender diversity is conspicuous. Notably, none of the calendars focus on a Black female artist. CT


Archibald Motley 2021 Calendar | Published by Pomegranate

Modern artist Archibald Motley (1891-1981) is known for his vibrant cultural scenes of Black Chicago and jazz age Paris. This 2021 calendar features paintings from private collections and the holdings of HBCUs and historically Black-run cultural institutions, produced between 1926 to 1941.


FIND MORE about Archibald Motley from Richard Powell and Valerie Gerrard Browne on Culture Type


Cover Image: ARCHIBALD MOTLEY, “Bronzeville at Night,” 1949 (oil on canvas, 31 x 41 inches / 78.74 x 104.14 cm). | © Valerie Gerrard Browne

Archibald Motley 2021 Calendar | Published by Tide-mark

Another 2021 calendar also showcases the work of Archibald Motley (1891-1981). Emphasizing that “the sound of jazz is alive” in the artist’s work, the featured images explore Chicago culture, jazz and blues scenes, and a Paris moment.


Cover Image: JEAN-MICHEL BASQUIAT, Detail of “Untitled (Tenant),” 1982 (acrylic and oilstick on canvas). | © Estate of Jean-Michel Basquiat

Jean-Michel Basquiat 2021 Calendar | Published by Harry N. Abrams

Thirty years after his death, Jean-Michel Basquiat (1960-1988) is one of the world’s most popular artists. His graffiti-style art employs vibrant color, language, and iconographic symbols and figures to explore a range of racial, cultural, and political issues. This 2021 calendar features 13 images by the celebrated New York artist.


Cover Image: BENNY ANDREWS, “Portrait of a Collagist,” 1989 (oil and collage on canvas). | © 2020 Estate of Benny Andrews / Licensed VAGA at ARS, NY. Courtesy Michael Rosenfeld Gallery, LLC, New York, NY

African American Art 2021 Calendar, Detroit Institute of Arts | Published by Pomegranate

A self-portrait by Benny Andrews (1930-2006) covers this 2021 calendar featuring African American art from the collection of the Detroit Institute of Arts. Spanning 1871 to 2002, landscapes, still lifes, and contemporary works by Robert S. Duncanson, Elizabeth Catlett, Jacob Lawrence, Betye Saar, Bob Thompson, and Therman Statom, among others, are featured.


Cover Image: ROMARE BEARDEN, “Three Folk Musicians,” 1967 (collage of various papers with paint and graphite on canvas). 50 x 60 in. | Collection of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Arthur and Margaret Glasgow Endowment. © Romare Bearden Foundation/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY

Romare Bearden 2021 Calendar | Published by Pomegranate

A dozen watercolors and collage works by Romare Bearden (1911-1988) illustrate this 2021 calendar. One of the most important artists of the 20th century, Bearden explored a range of ideas and experiences that reflected his own life in the rural South, city of New York, and the Caribbean. Works made between 1967 and 1986 are featured.


FIND MORE about “Three Folk Musicians” by Romare Bearden on Culture Type


Cover Image: JEFF DONALDSON, “Wives of Sango,” 1971 (paint, foil, and ink on cardboard 36 1/4 x 25 9/16 / 92 x 65 cm). | Collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture. © Jeff Donaldson, Courtesy of Jameela Donaldson

Smithsonian National Museum of African American History & Culture 2021 Calendar | Published by Universe Publishing/Rizzoli

Opened in 2016, the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) is dedicated to telling the rich story of African Americans and its impact on the nation and the world. The narrative is explored through a variety of mediums, including objects and art. This 2021 calendar features a selection from NMAAHC’s art collection, including works by Ed Clark, Aaron Douglas, Whitfield Lovell, Mavis Pusey, Joyce J. Scott, and Kehinde Wiley. The cover is illustrated with a mixed media work by Jeff Donaldson, a co-founder of AfriCOBRA, the artist collective established in Chicago in 1968.


Cover Image: ERNIE BARNES, “In the Beginning,” circa 1970 (acrylic on cotton canvas, with artist built frame; 457 x 610 mm / 18×24 inches, canvas; 635 x 762 mm /25×30 inches, with frame). | © Ernie Barnes Family Trust

The Iconic Art of Ernie Barnes 2021 Calendar | Published by Shades of Color

An athlete turned artist, Ernie Barnes (1938-2009) painted what he knew—everyday life in the segregated South and the challenges of triumph of sports. Based in Los Angeles for most of his artistic career, Barnes was recognized for the unique, expressive way he rendered his figures, an elongated style that conveyed energy and movement. This 2021 calendar features some of his signature works, including “Late Night DJ” (1980), “Friendly Friendship Baptist Church” (1994), and “The Drum Major” (2003).


FIND MORE about Ernie Barnes on Culture Type


Cover Image: CHARLES WHITE, “J’Accuse #1,” 1965 (charcoal and Wolff crayon on illustration board, 132.1 x 88.9 / 52 x 35 inches). | Private Collection, © Charles White Archives

Charles White 2021 Calendar | Published by Pomegranate

Charles White (1918-1979) was a renowned draftsman whose realist images expressed the dignity, struggle, and power of Black people. Born in Chicago, White lived in New York before settling in Los Angeles, where he spent the rest of his life. In 2019, a calendar was produced to coincide with a major traveling retrospective of White. Subsequently, 2020 and 2021 editions have been produced.


FIND MORE about Charles White’s retrospective and Mary McLeod Bethune mural on Culture Type


Cover Image: ROMARE BEARDEN, Detail of “The Block,” 1971 (cut and pasted printed, colored, and metallic papers, photostats, graphite, ink marker, gouache, watercolor, and ink on Masonite, 4 x 18 feet). | Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Samuel Shore. © 2020 Romare Bearden Foundation, Licensed by VAGA and Artists Rights Society (ARC), New York

Harlem Renaissance and Beyond 2021 Calendar, Metropolitan Museum of Art | Published by Harry N. Abrams

This 2021 calendar is inspired by works from the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. African American artists active during the Harlem Renaissance are represented along with artists who were inspired by them decades later. Bustling city scenes, engaging interiors, and compelling portraits by Aaron Douglas, William H. Johnson, Jacob Lawrence, Kerry James Marshall, and Hale Woodruff are among the works featured.


Art Historian Richard Powell published the exhibition catalog “Archibald Motley: Jazz Age Modernist” to accompany the traveling retrospective he organized in 2014. Powell also published “To Conserve a Legacy: American Art from Historically Black Colleges and Universities,” documenting another landmark exhibition he curated which explored the storied art collections of several HBCUs. In “From Pads to Palette,” Ernie Barnes chronicles his life growing up in North Carolina, finding sports and a career in the NFL, and the opportunities that finally led to him working full-time as an artist. “Between the Lines: How Ernie Barnes Went from the Football Field to the Art Gallery” is a children’s book about the athlete turned artist. “Charles White: A Retrospective” documents the artist’s recent major traveling exhibition. “Charles White: The Gordon Gift to The University of Texas” accompanied an important show presented last year focused on a gift of 23 artworks by Charles White. “Something Over Something Else: Romare Bearden’s Profile Series” accompanied a recent exhibition and “An American Odyssey: The Life and Work of Romare Bearden,” by Mary Schmidt Campbell, is an important biography recently published about the artist. “Basquiat’s ‘Defacement’: The Untold Story” documents an important exhibition curated by Chaédria LaBouvier at the Guggenheim Museum. “Writing the Future: Basquiat and the Hip-Hop Generation” was published earlier this year. Also consider “Radiant Child: The Story of Young Artist Jean-Michel Basquiat,” a children’s book about the artist. For an African American calendar focused more on history than art, consider A Journey into 365 Days of Black History, a 2021 wall calendar.


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