THE YEAR AHEAD is rife with an expansive and diverse selection of exhibitions, books and other opportunities to engage with the work of African American artists. From Austin, Texas, to Brooklyn and Boston, a notable line up of solo museum exhibitions opening in 2021 is focused on Black female artists, including Emma Amos, Sonya Clark, Deana Lawson, Wangechi Mutu, Lorraine O’Grady, Christina Quarles, Deborah Roberts, and Alma Thomas.

Exhibitions about “Grief and Grievance: Art and Mourning in America,” conceived by late curator Okwui Enwezor at the New Museum in New York; Blackness and architecture at the Museum of Modern Art in New York; “The Dirty South,” exploring the intersection of music and visual expression at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in Richmond; the first U.S. presentation of “Afro-Atlantic Histories” at the Museum of Fine Arts Houston; and the first comprehensive retrospective of David C. Driskell at the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, are also among the most anticipated shows of the year.

Major forthcoming publications include “The Soul of a Nation Reader: Writings by and about Black American Artists, 1960–1980,” a complement to the landmark exhibition featuring more than 150 texts by artists and writers, and “Kara Walker: A Black Hole Is Everything a Star Longs to Be,” a massive 600-page volume shedding light on the artist’s personal archive of works on paper. In early February, HBO is celebrating Black History Month with the documentary “Black Art: In the Absence of Light, A Celebration of African American Artists.”

Postponed from last year, Prospect 5, the citywide contemporary art triennial in New Orleans, co-curated by Naima J. Keith and Diana Nawi, is now opening in October. Delays due to COVID-19 also affected shows dedicated to Quarles, Roberts, and Lawson, and a public art installation by David Hammons, providing added benefits to this year’s schedule.

Concerns about health and safety surrounding the pandemic continue to force institutions to temporarily close, causing some delays to programming. Many are planning ahead for these issues. Being held in Canada for the first time this year, the Black Portraiture[s} symposium will take place both online and in-person. The first-ever UK solo exhibition of Charles Gaines at Hauser & Wirth gallery in London opened online Jan. 29 in anticipation of the potential reopening of the gallery’s physical space in the months to come.

The following selection of what’s on the horizon in African American art provides a guide to prime offerings, what to look forward to in 2021:


“AFRICOBRA: Messages to the People,” Edited by Jeffreen Hayes, with a foreword by Chana Sheldon, and text by Leslie Guy (Gregory Miller/Museum of Contemporary Art, North Miami, 176 pages).

BOOK | AFRICOBRA: Messages to the People, Edited by Jeffreen M. Hayes | Published Jan. 5, 2021

Exploring the art and legacy of the AfriCOBRA, the artist collective founded in Chicago in 1968, this fully illustrated volume documents two exhibitions curated by Jeffreen M. Hayes—“AfriCOBRA: Messages to the People” at the Museum of Contemporary Art, North Miami (2018-19) and “AfriCOBRA: Nationtime,” an official collateral event of the 58th Venice Biennale in 2019. More than 80 works are featured by co-founders Jeff Donaldson, Jae Jarrell, Wadsworth Jarrell, Barbara Jones-Hogu and Gerald Williams, as well as subsequent members Sherman Beck, Napoleon Jones-Henderson, Omar Lama, Carolyn Mims Lawrence and Nelson Stevens.

READ MORE about the Venice exhibition on Culture Type


KENYATTA A.C. HINKLE, “The Evanesced: The Untouchables,” 2020 (100 drawings, India ink and watercolor on recycled, acid-free paper). | © 2021 University Art Gallery, UC Irvine. Photo by Paul Salveson

EXHIBITION | The Black Index @ Contemporary Arts Center (CAC) Gallery, University of California, Irvine, Irvine, Calif. | Jan. 14-March 20, 2021

Disrupting traditional expectations of portraiture, Dennis Delgado, Alicia Henry, Kenyatta A.C. Hinkle, Titus Kaphar, Whitfield Lovell, and Lava Thomas employ drawing, performance, printmaking, sculpture, and digital technology to “build upon the tradition of Black self-representation as an antidote to colonialist images” and “question our reliance on photography as a privileged source for documentary objectivity and understanding” offering “an alternative practice—a Black index—that still serves as a finding aid for information about Black subjects, but also challenges viewers’ desire for classification.” Dedicated to David C. Driskell, the exhibition is curated by Bridget R. Cooks, includes a fully illustrated catalog and will travel the Palo Alto Art Center, the University of Texas at Austin, and Hunter College.

FIND MORE about the exhibition on its proejct website


“The Black Civil War Soldier: A Visual History of Conflict and Citizenship” by Deborah Willis (NYU Press, 256 pages).

BOOK | The Black Civil War Soldier: A Visual History of Conflict and Citizenship by Deborah Willis | Expected Jan. 26, 2021

Part of the NYU Series in Social and Cultural Analysis, Deborah Willis has assembled a striking collection of images, handwritten materials, and personal ephemera, shedding light on the “crucial role of photography in (re)telling and shaping African American narratives of the Civil War, pulling from a dynamic visual archive that has largely gone unacknowledged.”


DEBORAH ROBERTS, “The duty of disobedience,” 2020 (mixed media collage on canvas, 72 x 100 inches). | © Deborah Roberts. Courtesy the artist; Vielmetter Los Angeles; and Stephen Friedman Gallery, London. Courtesy The Contemporary Austin, Photo by Paul Bardagjy

EXHIBITION | Deborah Roberts: I’m @ The Contemporary Austin, Austin, Texas | Jan. 23, 2021-Aug. 15, 2021

For her first solo exhibition in a Texas museum, Austin-based Deborah Roberts is presenting a selection of new paintings and works on paper. In addition to her mixed-media works, Roberts is showing two new interactive sound, text, and video sculptures and the museum commissioned her to create a mural on the museum’s exterior. Originally scheduled to open in September 2020, the exhibition was delayed to late January due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Deborah Roberts focuses her gaze on African American children—historically, and still today, among the most vulnerable members of our population—investigating how societal pressures, projected images of beauty or masculinity, and the violence of American racism conditions their experiences growing up in this country as well as how others perceive them.”


Installation view of “Charles Gaines: Multiples of Nature, Trees and Faces,” Hauser & Wirth, London, Jan. 29-May1, 2021. Shown, Works from Multi-Racial/Ethnic Combinations Series. | © Charles Gaines, Courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth

EXHIBITION | Charles Gaines: Multiples of Nature, Trees and Faces @ Hauser & Wirth, London | Jan. 29-May 1, 2021

Los Angeles-based Charles Gaines works with formulaic systems that “interrogate relationships between the objective and the subjective realms, as well as navigating ideas around identity and diversity.” For his first-ever solo exhibition in the UK, the conceptual artist is presenting Plexiglass gridworks from his Numbers and Trees series, which dates back to the mid-1970s, and Numbers and Faces series, started in 1978. The new works are based on English trees Gaines observed and photographed in Melbury in Dorset (London Series 1’) and portraits of people who consider themselves multi-racial (Multi-Racial/Ethnic Combinations Series). Hauser & Wirth’s London space is currently closed based on government guidance regarding the pandemic. In the meantime, the exhibition is on view online. Gaines also has forthcoming solo museum presentations at Dia Beacon (February) and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (March).


EMMA AMOS, “Tightrope,” 1994 (acrylic on linen with African fabric borders, 82 x 58 inches). | © Estate of Emma Amos. Minneapolis Institute of Art, Gift of funds from Mary and Bob Mersky and the Ted and Dr. Roberta Mann Foundation Endowment Fund

EXHIBITION | Emma Amos: Color Odyssey @ Georgia Museum of Art at University of Georgia, Athens, Ga. | Jan. 30-April 25, 2021

A dynamic painter, who died last May, Emma Amos (1937-2020) explored and challenged race, class, and gender norms, both in her work and career. Her works reference color-field painting, employ photo transfer techniques, and are trimmed in African fabrics. An in-depth examination of her life and practice, this career-spanning traveling retrospective presents about 60 works, including paintings, prints, and woven works.

READ MORE about Amos’s exhibition on Culture Type


DAVID HAMMONS, “Untitled (Man with Flag),” n.d. (grease, pigment, and white crayon on paper, 29 3/4 x 39 3/4 inches / 75.6 x 101 cm). | Glenstone Museum, Potomac, Md., Photograph by Alex Jamison, courtesy of Mnuchin Gallery, New York

EXHIBITION | David Hammons: Body Prints, 1968–1979 @ The Drawing Center, New York, N.Y. | Feb. 5-May 23, 2021

The first museum exhibition dedicated to David Hammons’s body prints features 32 works drawn from public institutions and private collections. Hammons made the hybrid figurative and abstract works by applying oil to his body, pressing himself against paper, and then dusting the oiled surface with pigment. His body served as “both a drawing tool and printing plate to explore performative, unconventional forms of image making.” Alongside the body prints, the show features documentary images by photographer Bruce Talamon of Hammons making the works in his Los Angeles studio. A catalog accompanies the exhibition with contributions from exhibition curator Laura Hoptman, executive director of The Drawing Center, Talamon, and Linda Goode Bryant and Senga Nengudi, who engage in a conversation about their early experiences with Hammons and his work.

READ MORE about Bruce Talamon photographing David Hammons on Culture Type


DAVID DRISKELL, “Homage to Romare,” 1975 (Collage and gouache on Masonite). | © Estate of David C. Driskell. Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond, Arthur and Margaret Glasgow Endowment

EXHIBITION | David Driskell: Icons of Nature and History @ High Museum of Art, Atlanta | Feb. 6-May 9, 2021

Presenting an overview of the illustrious 60-year career of David Driskell (1931-2020), this exhibition celebrates highlights of his oeuvre, across painting, printmaking and collage. About 60 works will be on view, dating from 1953 to 2011. Opening less than a year after the artist and scholar died last April, due COVID-19, the exhibition will be hosted by the High Museum in Atlanta, Portland Museum of Art in Maine, with a final stop in the fall at the Phillips Collection in Washington, D.C. The exhibition is guest curated by Julie McGee and accompanied by a catalog, the first publication to survey Driskell’s entire career.

READ MORE about the forthcoming exhibition on Culture Type


Artist Amy Sherald working on her portrait of First Lady Michelle Obama. | Courtesy HBO

FILM | Black Art: In the Absence of Light, A Celebration of African American Artists @ HBO and HBO Max | Premieres Feb. 9, 2021

From director Sam Pollard, “Black Art” provides a primer on the nation’s most highly regarded African American artists—their work and their experiences. With Black artists active today gaining unprecedented critical acclaim, market attention, and museum recognition, the documentary contextualizes their achievements and frames their strides and challenges. A number of artists including Kerry James Marshall, Faith Ringgold, Jordan Casteel, Radcliffe Bailey, Amy Sherald, Theaster Gates, Kara Walker, Carrie Mae Weems, and Kehinde Wiley are interviewed. Mary Schmidt Campbell, Rujeko Hockley, Sarah Lewis, Richard Powell, Valerie Cassel Oliver, Swizz Beatz (Kasseem Dean), and Bernard Lumpkin, are among the curators, scholars, and collectors who offer commentary. “Two Centuries of Black American Art,” the 1976 exhibition curated by David C. Driskell informs the discussion, shedding light on its central role in shifting cultural awareness, introducing the American public, the Black community, and the mainstream art world to a spectrum of African American artists. The significance of Thelma Golden’s 1994-95 exhibition “Black Male: Representations of Masculinity in Contemporary American Art” is also explored, along with the influence of the Studio Museum in Harlem, where she is now now director and chief curator, as a nexus for Black artists spanning generations. Executive produced by Henry Louis Gates Jr., with Golden serving as consulting producer, the film is bolstered greatly by the appearances and insights of Driskell and writer and curator Maurice Berger, who both died in 2020.


KERRY JAMES MARSHALL, “Memento #5,” 2003 (acrylic and glitter on unstretched canvas banner, 107 5/8 × 157 1/2 inches / 274.3 × 396.2 cm). | © Kerry James Marshall. The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, Missouri. Purchase: acquired through the generosity of the William T. Kemper Foundation – Commerce Bank, Trustee, 2003.24. Courtesy Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art Media Services

EXHIBITION | Grief and Grievance: Art and Mourning in America @ New Museum, New York, N.Y. | Feb. 17-June 6, 2021

Conceived by Okwui Enwezor (1963-2019), this timely exhibition features an intergenerational slate of 37 artists whose work across painting, sculpture, installation, photography, video, sound, and performance, addresses “the concept of mourning, commemoration, and loss as a direct response to the national emergency of racist violence experienced by Black communities across America.” The exhibition is presented with curatorial support from Naomi Beckwith, Massimiliano Gioni, Glenn Ligon, and Mark Nash who stepped in as advisors to complete the show after Enwezor’s death.


“Grief and Grievance” considers “the intertwined phenomena of Black grief and a politically orchestrated white grievance, as each structures and defines contemporary American social and political life.”


SEKOU COOKE, “We Outchea,” 2020 (digital drawings, dimensions variable). | Courtesy the artist, The Museum of Modern Art, New York

EXHIBITION | Reconstructions: Architecture and Blackness in America @ Museum of Modern Art, New York, N.Y. | Feb 20–May 31, 2021

Posing the thought-provoking question, “How does race structure America’s cities?” this exhibition focuses on the intersection of architecture, design, and Black space and the history of injustice in the built environment. Exercises in reinvention, re-imagination and liberation, 10 case studies addressing structural and anti-Black racism are on view. The commissioned artists, architects, and designers are Emanuel Admassu, Germane Barnes, Sekou Cooke, J. Yolande Daniels, Felecia Davis, Mario Gooden, Walter Hood, Olalekan Jeyifous, V. Mitch McEwen, and Amanda Williams. David Hartt also contributes a series of new photographs. Co-curated by Mabel O. Wilson, the exhibition is accompanied by a fully illustrated catalog.


AWOL ERIZKU, “The Last Tears of Deceased,” 2020. | © Awol Erizku. Commissioned by Public Art Fund for “Awol Erizku: New Visions for Iris,” February-June 2021

PUBLIC ART | Awol Erizku: New Visions for Iris @ JCDecaux Bus Shelters, New York, N.Y. and Chicago, Ill. | Feb. 24-June 20, 2021

Awol Erizku is presenting a series of 13 photographs on 200 bus shelters in New York City and 150 in Chicago. Comprising portraits, still lifes, and images of birds, the new body of work presents “a new visual lexicon that explores the liminal space between imagination, spirituality, and image making” and “challenges the traditional Western canon and alludes to genre painting and pictorial styles in contemporary advertising.” Los Angeles-based Erizku’s recently born daughter (Iris) was top of mind when he developed the Public Art Fund project.


“With New Visions for Iris I want to reflect a less fixed, rigid, institutional understanding of the spaces we occupy.” — Awol Erizku


SONYA CLARK, “Afro Abe II,” 2010 (five-dollar bill and thread, 4 x 6 inches). | National Museum of Women in the Arts, Gift of Heather and Tony Podesta Collection. © Sonya Clark, Photo by Lee Stalsworth

EXHIBITION | Sonya Clark: Tatter, Bristle, and Mend @ National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington, D.C. | March 3-May 31, 2021

Textile and social practice artist Sonya Clark uses a variety of materials to explore issues of Blackness, labor, and visibility and to interrogate U.S. history and American culture. Clark expresses herself in a variety of mediums—mixed-media, sculpture, installation and performance. The first comprehensive survey of her 25-year career features nearly 100 works and will be accompanied by a fully illustrated catalog.

READ MORE about Clark’s exhibition on Culture Type


LORRAINE O’GRADY, (American, born 1934), “Rivers, First Draft: The Woman in White eats coconut and looks away from the action,” 1982/2015 (digital chromogenic print from Kodachrome 35mm slides in 48 parts, 16 × 20 inches / 40.64 × 50.8 cm), Edition of 8 + 2 AP. | Courtesy Alexander Gray Associates, New York. © Lorraine O’Grady / Artists Rights

EXHIBITION | Lorraine O’Grady: Both/And @ Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn, N.Y. | March 5-July 18, 2021

This is the first retrospective of Lorraine O’Grady, a singular artist working in conceptual, performance, and feminist art. O’Grady’s website explains her work, which makes clear the origins of the exhibition title: “While she has consistently addressed issues of diaspora, hybridity and black female subjectivity and has emphasized the formative roles these have played in the history of modernism, O’Grady also uses the diptych’s ‘both/and thinking’ to frame her themes as symptoms of a larger problematic, that of the divisive and hierarchical either/or categories underpinning Western philosophy.…” Spanning New York-based O’Grady’s four-decade career, more than a dozen projects and a newly created installation will be on view.

READ MORE about how O’Grady’s work inspired a Biden-Harris campaign video


CHRISTINA QUARLES, “Peer Amid (Peered Amidst),” 2019 (acrylic on canvas, 55 x 86 inches x 2 inches). | © Christina Quarles, Courtesy of the artist, Regen Projects, Los Angeles, and Pilar Corrias Gallery, London

EXHIBITION | Christina Quarles @ Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago | March 13-Aug. 29, 2021

Fascinating, ambiguous, and provocative, the figurative compositions of Los Angeles-based Christina Quarles are animated by her tangled and intertwined bodies and creative and strategic use of color. The exhibition is the largest presentation of her work to date. A selection of works made over the past few years and a new large-scale installation will be on view. Pushed back from April 2020, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the selection of works to be presented remains the same.

The work of Christina Quarles explores the universal experience of existing within a body, as well as the ways race, gender, and sexuality intersect to form complex identities. — MCA Chicago

Kara Walker: A Black Hole Is Everything a Star Longs to Be Edited by Anita Haldemann, with foreword by Kara Walker and texts by Maurice Berger and Aria Dean (JRP|Editions, 600 pages).

BOOK | Kara Walker: A Black Hole Is Everything a Star Longs to Be, Edited by Anita Haldemann | Expected March 16, 2020

A collection of more than 700 works on paper, this 600-page volume mines the closely held, private archive of Kara Walker. Produced between 1992 and 2020, the ink, graphite and collage works are being reproduced in print for the first time. The dynamic mix includes sketches and studies as well index cards with typewritten notes and dream journal entries. The drawings and related works are a critical and foundational aspect of Walker’s artistic practice and provide a window into her thinking and creative process.

READ MORE about Walker’s archive of works on paper on Culture Type


AMY SHERALD, A bucket full of treasures (Papa gave me sunshine to put in my pockets…),” (oil on canvas, 54 x 43 x 2 1/2 inches). | © Amy Sherald, Courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth. Photo by Joseph Hyde

EXHIBITION | Amy Sherald: The Great American Fact @ Hauser & Wirth Gallery, Los Angeles, Calif. | March 20-June 6, 2021

The highly regarded portraits of Amy Sherald are American totems. Her paintings of anonymous individuals represent the larger Black experience—myriad and possessed with joy and complexity. Sherald has traditionally focuses on single subjects. For her first-ever West Coast exhibition, she is presenting new paintings, both individual and group portraits. The show’s title derives from “A Voice From the South by a Black Woman of the South,” the 1892 book by Anna Julia Cooper.


“Arthur Jafa: MAGNUMB,” Edited by Lærke Jørgensen and Mathias Seeberg, with introduction by Mathias Ussing Seeberg, foreword by Poul Erik Tøjner, and contributions from Nahum Chandler, NourbeSe Philip, and Jared Sexton (Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, 204 pages).

READ MORE about Jafa’s Love is the Message video installation on Culture Type

BOOK | Arthur Jafa: MAGNUMB, Edited by Lærke Jørgensen and Mathias Seeberg | Expected March 30, 2021

Arthur Jafa has been collecting images since he was a child growing up in Mississippi. The lifelong passion has manifested in film and video projects rife with a dynamic mix of pictures, perspectives, and juxtapositions. This volume provides an essential overview of Los Angeles-based Jafa’s most acclaimed projects, including “Love is the Message, The Message is Death” and “The White Album,” along with unseen projects. The volume coincides with an exhibition of Jafa’s work at the Louisiana Museum of Art in Humlebæk, Denmark, near Copenhagan.


SANFORD BIGGERS, “Reconstruction,” 2019 (antique quilt, birch plywood, gold leaf, 38 x 72 x 19 inches). | © Sanford Biggers and Monique Meloche Gallery, Chicago. Photo by RCH Photography

EXHIBITION | Sanford Biggers: Codeswitch @ California African American Museum, Los Angeles | Spring 2021

The two-decade practice of Sanford Biggers speaks to the interplay between African American history and cultural traditions and contemporary social and political events and perspectives. Since 2009, he has been making quilt-based works. More than 50 are included in this exhibition, the interdisciplinary artist’s first full survey of the textile works. CAAM and the Rivers Institute for Contemporary Art & Thought in New Orleans are engaged in a multiyear collaboration and the Biggers show is their first project.


“The Soul of a Nation Reader: Writings by and about Black American Artists, 1960–1980,” Edited by Mark Godfrey and Allie Biswas (Gregory R. Miller & Co., 568 pages).

BOOK | The Soul of a Nation Reader: Writings by and about Black American Artists, 1960–1980, Edited by Mark Godfrey and Allie Biswas | Expected April 20, 2021

Between 1960 and 1980 was a transformative time in the American narrative when Black leaders sought radical solutions to racism, injustice, and inequality, and artists often struggled to figure out their role in the quest for change. What is “Black art” and does such a category exist? Artists, curators, and critics considered these matters repeatedly, during the time, offering a spectrum of artistic responses, theories, opinions. Complementing the landmark traveling exhibition “Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power,” this comprehensive volume gathers more than 150 rare and out-of-print text and newly published material from artists and writers addressing “questions of Black identity, activism and social responsibility in the age of Malcolm X and the Black Panthers.”


WANGECHI MUTU, “Outstretched​,” 2019 (paper pulp, wood glue, soil, charcoal, pigment, feathers, 35 7/8 x 63 3/4 x 29 1/2 inches). | Courtesy the artist and Gladstone Gallery, Image Courtesy the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco

EXHIBITION | Wangechi Mutu: I Am Speaking, Are You Listening? @ Legion of Honor Museum, San Francisco, Calif. | May 1-Nov. 7, 2021

Kenyan American artist Wangechi Mutu creates fantastical universes populated by powerful women and informed by cosmology and the natural world. Her latest exhibition features new and recent works made over the past two decades—lots of sculpture, plus collage works and film. She is taking over the entire first floor of the museum including the outdoor atrium where Auguste Rodin’s The Thinker is on display. Mutu will flank the historic work with four sculptures of her own. Inside, “Sentinel IV” one of her sculptures commissioned for the outdoor niches at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 2019 is among the works featured.


Okwui Enwezor, October 2011 (at the exhibition “Ellsworth Kelly: Black and White” at the Haus der Kunst in Munich). | Photo: EPA/Frank Leonhardt

JOURNAL | Okwui Enwezor and the Art of Curating, Nka: Journal of Contemporary African Art | May 2021

In 1993, Okwui Enwezor (1963–2019) co-founded Nka with Chika Okeke-Agulu and Salah Hassan. Now the contemporary African art journal is dedicating a special issue to the international curator who envisioned the exhibition a “space of public discourse.” Edited by co-founder Okeke-Agulu with Jane Chin Davidson and Alpesh Kantilal Patel, the volume collects articles and personal tributes from more than 30 artists, curators, art historians, and critics, including David Adjaye, Naomi Beckwith, María Magdalena Campos-Pons, Jane Chin Davidson, Shane Doyle, Kendell Geers, Amelia G. Jones, Mohammed Ibrahim Mahama, Julie Mehretu, Wangechi Mutu, Sabine Dahl Nielsen, Chris Ofili, Hoor Al Qasimi, Yinka Shonibare, and Lynette Yiadom-Boakye.


He “transformed the curatorial present of global exhibitions and anticipated their decolonizing futures. Enwezor created political platforms and artistic manifestos that not only changed the form and function of global exhibitions, but also opened up new ways to align activism with aesthetic practices, performative displays, and curatorial initiatives.”
— Nka

Rendering of proposed project, “Day’s End,” looking west. | Courtesy Guy Nordenson and Associates

PUBLIC ART | “David Hammons: Day’s End” @ Hudson River Park, Gansevoort Peninsula, New York, N.Y. | May 2021

David Hammons is erecting a “ghost” monument on the Hudson River waterfront. The project is inspired by the work of Gordon Matta Clarke who cut openings in an industrial shed on the same site, creating an architectural installation animated by light and shadow. Several years in the making, the installation was delayed from fall 2020, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.


MELVIN EDWARDS, “Homage to Coco,” 1970 (Painted steel and chain, 48h x 96w x 120d inches / 121.92h x 243.84w x 304.8d cm). | © Melvin Edwards. Courtesy the artist and Alexander Gray Associates

PUBLIC ART | Melvin Edwards: Brighter Days @ City Hall Park, New York, N.Y. | May 4-Nov. 28, 2021

The Public Art Fund is presenting the first major survey of Melvin Edwards’s public artworks at City Hall Park, a highly active and symbolic public space. The large-scale sculptures reflect the central themes of Edwards’s practice (race, labor, and violence). Created between 1970 and the present, the works focus on the chain and rocking chair, two key motifs that speak to Black culture and the African American experience. An African burial ground and site where the first public reading of the Declaration of Independence occurred, City Hall Park. Originally scheduled to open in June 2020, this exhibition has been delayed twice. The first time due to the coronavirus pandemic; The second occurrence was in July when Edwards and the Public Art Fund pushed the back in solidarity with Black Lives Matters protestors who had occupied City Hall.


EL FRANCO LEE II (American, born 1979), DJ Screw in Heaven 2, 2016, acrylic on black canvas with cassette tape. Courtesy of the artist

EXHIBITION | The Dirty South: Contemporary Art, Material Culture and the Sonic Impulse @ Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond, Va. | May 22-Sept. 6, 2021

Considering the aesthetics of Southern expression in 20th century Black culture, this exhibition explores intrinsic parallels between visual art and musical traditions, beginning with jazz in the 1920s through more recent trends in hip hop, along the way considering “frameworks of landscape, religion, and the Black body.” Curated by Valerie Cassel Oliver, the exhibition spans visual expression, assemblage, collage, appropriation, and sonic transference. A range of academically trained and often marginalized, self-taught artists are featured, including Thornton Dial, William Edmundson, Allison Janae Hamilton, Arthur Jafa, Jason Moran, Sister Gertrude Morgan, and Kara Walker. Material culture is also central to the presentation, from car culture to the personal ephemera of iconic musical figures.


KEHINDE WILEY, “Barack Obama,” 2018 (oil on canvas). | © 2018 Kehinde Wiley, National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; AMY SHERALD, “Michelle LaVaughn Robinson Obama,” 2018 (oil on linen). | National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution. The National Portrait Gallery is grateful to the following lead donors for their support of the Obama portraits: Kate Capshaw and Steven Spielberg; Judith Kern and Kent Whealy; Tommie L. Pegues and Donald A. Capoccia

EXHIBITION | Obama Portraits Tour @ Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, Ill. | June 18-Aug. 15, 2021

Since 2018, the portraits of President Barack Obama by Kehinde Wiley, and First Lady Michelle Obama by Amy Sherald, have been on view at the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C., generating record-breaking traffic from visitors from around the world. This summer, the portraits are going on tour around the United States, bringing them directly to even wider audiences, beginning at the Art Institute of Chicago, Brooklyn Museum, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, High Museum of Art in Atlanta, and concluding in spring 2022 at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.


NJIDEKA AKUNYILI CROSBY, Installation view of “Obodo (Country/City/Town/Ancestral Village),” 2018, MOCA Grand Avenue, Los Angeles | Courtesy the artist, Victoria Miro, and David Zwirner, Photo by Elon Schoenholz

EXHIBITION | Toward Common Cause: Art, Social Change, and the MacArthur Fellows Program at 40 @ Smart Museum of Art, University of Chicago, Chicago, Ill. | Summer 2021-Fall 2021

The Smart Museum of Art at the University of Chicago is organizing a multi-venue exhibition celebrating the MacArthur Fellows Program, which launched in 1981. Supported by the MacArthur Foundation, the exhibition features 28 artists, who are former fellows, including Njideka Akunyili Crosby, Dawoud Bey, Mark Bradford, David Hammons, LaToya Ruby Frazier, Whitfield Lovell, Rick Lowe, Kerry James Marshall, Julie Mehretu, Kara Walker, Carrie Mae Weems, and Fred Wilson.


ALMA THOMAS, “Untitled,” 1922/1924 (oil on canvas). | The Kinsey African American Art & History Collection

EXHIBITION | Alma W. Thomas: Everything is Beautiful @ Chrysler Museum of Art, Norfolk, Va. | July 9, 2021-Oct. 3, 2021

Alma Thomas (1891-1978) is known for her vividly colored, rhythmic patterned abstract paintings. This presentation provides a rare comprehensive overview of her creativity, exploring her painting practice, as well as her role as an educator (Thomas taught in Washington, D.C., public schools for three decades), gardening, community service, and fashion. Featuring more than 100 works, including rarely seen marionettes, and a variety of archival materials, the traveling exhibition is co-organized by the Columbus Museum in her Georgia hometown.


ULYSSES JENKINS, “Two Zone Transfer,” 1979 (still of video transferred to DVD, color, sound, 23:52 minutes). | Courtesy of the artist

EXHIBITION | Ulysses Jenkins: Without Your Interpretation @ Institute of Contemporary Art Philadelphia, Sept. 24-Dec. 30, 2021

The first major retrospective of Los Angeles-based Ulysses Jenkins, a pioneering video/performance artist whose practice dates back to the late 1970s and includes collaborations with Kerry James Marshall, David Hammons, Maren Hassinger, and Senga Nengudi. The exhibition is co-curated by ICA Associate Curator Meg Onli and Erin Christovale, associate curator at the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles, where the exhibition will be on view in 2022.


“Hurvin Anderson (Contemporary Painters Series),” by Courtney J. Martin (Lund Humphries Publishers Ltd, 144 pages).

BOOK | Hurvin Anderson (Contemporary Painters Series), by Courtney J. Martin | Expected Sept. 30, 2021

Courtney J. Martin (director of the Yale Center for British Art), offers a critical assessment and the first comprehensive overview of British painter Hurvin Anderson’s two-decade career. Shortlisted for the 2017 Turner Prize, Anderson is known for “painting loosely rendered “observations” of scenes and spaces loaded with personal or communal meaning.”


Installation view, “​Sandra Brewster: Blur,​” July 24, 2019-March 29, 2020, Art Gallery of Ontario. Shown, Sandra Brewster, “Untitled (Blur)​,” 2017-2019. | © Sandra Brewster. Photo Courtesy AGO

SYMPOSIUM | Black Portraiture[s] VI: Toronto, Absent/ed Presence 2021 @ Ryerson University, Toronto, Canada | Oct. 14-16, 2021

The sixth edition of Black Portraiture[s] will be hosted in Canada for the first time. The ongoing series of academic symposiums focuses on imaging the Black body. Presented by Kenneth Montague’s Wedge Curatorial Projects, this year’s gathering is a hybrid event occurring online and in-person (due to the COVID-19 pandemic). In February 2022, Black Portraiture[s] VII will take place in Newark, N.J., with a theme of Play and Performance.

FIND MORE about collector and curator Kenneth Montague on Culture Type


From left, DALTON PAULA, “Zeferina,” 2018 (oil on canvas, 45 x 61 cm). | Image courtesy of Alexander and Bonin, New York, and MASP (Museu de Arte de São Paulo). Photo by Paulo Rezende; and DALTON PAULA, “João de Deus Nascimento,” 2018 (oil on canvas, 45 x 61 cm). | Image courtesy of Alexander and Bonin, New York, and MASP (Museu de Arte de São Paulo). Photo by Paulo Rezende

EXHIBITION | Afro-Atlantic Histories @ Museum of Fine Arts, Houston | October 2021 Oct. 24, 2021-Jan. 17, 2022

Presented in Brazil in 2018, the landmark exhibition “Afro-Atlantic Histories” is making its U.S. debut at MFA Houston, and will travel to the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., in spring 2022. Exploring the interconnected histories of the African diaspora, the ambitious and expansive show spans mediums, geographies, and eras (from 16th to the 21st centuries), and originally included 450 works by 214 artists from Africa, the Americas, the Caribbean, and Europe.


“It’s worth going a distance for greatness. And great is what the exhibition “Histórias Afro-Atlânticas” (“Afro-Atlantic Histories”) is. …it’s a hemispheric treasure chest, a redrafting of known narratives, and piece for piece one of the most enthralling shows I’ve seen in years, with one visual detonation after another.” — Holland Carter

Marigny Opera House, New Orleans. | Photo by Pompo Bresciani, Courtesy Prospect New Orleans

TRIENNIAL | Prospect.5: Yesterday we said tomorrow, Citywide, New Orleans, La. | Oct. 23, 2021-Jan. 23, 2022

Led by co-artistic directors Naima Keith and Diana Nawi, the latest iteration of Prospect New Orleans is titled “Yesterday we said tomorrow,” inspired by an album from New Orleans–born jazz musician Christian Scott. Keith and Nawi selected an international slate of artists for the three-month, citywide exhibition. Participants include Kevin Beasley, Dawoud Bey, Willie Birch, Mark Bradford, Karon Davis, Simone Leigh, Glenn Ligon, and Naudline Pierre.Originally scheduled for 2020, Prospect 5 was delayed to 2021 due to COVID-19.


DEANA LAWSON, “Roxie and Raquel, New Orleans, Louisiana,” 2010 (inkjet print, 35 × 43 inches / 88.9 × 109.2 cm). | © Deana Lawson. Courtesy the artist; Sikkema Jenkins & Co., New York; and Rhona Hoffman Gallery, Chicago

EXHIBITION | Deana Lawson @ Institute of Contemporary Art Boston, Boston, Mass | Oct. 27, 2021-March 6, 2022 Nov. 4, 2021-Feb. 27, 2022

ICA Boston is presenting the first U.S. museum survey dedicated to the unique practice of Deana Lawson, the first photographer to win the Hugo Boss Prize (2020). Intended to reflect everyday life, her highly staged and stylized large-format images explore representations of Black identity rarely seen in museums and galleries. The show is traveling to MoMA PS1 and a fully illustrated catalog is being published to document the exhibition. CT


Updated (01/31/21)


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