Latest News in Black Art features news updates and developments in the world of art and related culture

Dating back two decades to when he was a student at Howard University, Chadwick Boseman had advocated for maintaining the College of Fine Arts. | Courtesy Howard University


Howard University named its College of Fine Arts for celebrated actor Chadwick Boseman (1976-2020), who earned a BFA in directing from the HBCU in 2000. When he was a student at Howard, Boseman protested the absorption of the College of Fine Arts into the College of Arts & Sciences and over the years continued to engage his alma mater, advocating for greater investment and focus on the fine arts. Boseman is recognized for portraying Jackie Robinson, Thurgood Marshall, James Brown, and the Black Panther. His performance in his final film, “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom,” earned him an Oscar nomination for best actor. Howard announced plans to reinstate the college in 2018 and later that year Boseman returned to the campus to deliver the commencement address. Earlier this month, Phylicia Rashad was named dean of fine arts at Howard. Disney Chairman Bob Iger is leading a fundraising campaign for a new building to house the college along with an endowment to support it.

Ta-Nehisi Coates, Glenda Elizabeth Gilmore, and Martha S. Jones organized an open letter published on The Root May 25 in support of Nikole Hannah-Jones, the New York Times Magazine reporter and founder of the 1619 Project. Hannah-Jones was appointed Knight Chair in Race and Investigative Journalism at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, her alma mater, without the tenure that ordinarily accompanies the post. More than 200 prominent scholars, journalists, writers, athletes, and artists have endorsed the letter, including Andrea Chung, Ava DuVernay, Tanisha Ford, Derek Fordjour, Henry Louis Gates Jr., Roxane Gay, Barry Jenkins, Mark Anthony Neal, Leslie Odom Jr., Nell Irvin Painter, Claudia Rankin, Calida Rawles, Deborah E. Roberts, Xaviera Simmons, and Lena Waithe. | The Root


The Estates of artists Camille Billops and Winfred Rembert have new relationships with New York galleries. | Images: From left, Courtesy Ryan Lee Gallery; Photo by Renan Ozturk


Ryan Lee in New York announced its representation of the Estate of Camille Billops (1933-2019) today. A sculptor, printmaker, and documentary filmmaker, her practice focused on racial division and social inequality, and explored her personal history. Billops’s work will be featured in a group exhibition opening June 4 at the gallery. “Friends and Agitators: Emma Amos, Camille Billops, Vivian Browne and May Stevens, 1965-1993” will explore the connections among the pioneering artists who challenged institutional racism and gender discrimination in the New York art scene. | via email

The Estate of Winfred Rembert (1945-2021), who made paintings on tooled leather, is now represented by Fort Gansevoort. Rembert lived and worked in New Haven, Conn. His detailed scenes of the Jim Crow South—cotton fields, chain gangs dressed in stripes, pool halls, and church services—reflect his memories of growing up in rural Cuthbert, Ga. Working in close collaboration with his family, Fort Gansevoort will present his first solo show with gallery in September in New York. | Press Release


From left, Cranbrook Academy of Art and Art Museum Board Chair Jennifer Gilbert presents honorary MFA degree to renowned sculptor Artis Lane, with Susan R. Ewing, the Maxine and Stuart Frankel Director of Cranbrook Academy of Art | Photo Courtesy Cranbrook Academy of Art

Honors & Awards

Sculptor Artis Lane, 94, received an honorary Master of Fine Arts degree from Cranbrook Academy of Art during an in-person ceremony on campus. In 1951, she became the first Black women to enroll at Cranbrook, where she studied for one year. | Press Release

At Art Basel Hong Kong, the shortlist was announced for the 2021 BMW Art Journey Prize: TJulien Creuzet, Kelvin Kyung Kun Park, and Alice Wang. A French-Caribbean artist, Creuzet is based in Montreuil, France. The winner will be selected in late June.


President Joe Biden appointed four new members to the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts, including Justin Garrett Moore, inaugural program officer of the Humanities in Place program at the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and Hazel Ruth Edwards, professor and chair of Howard University Department of Architecture. Edwards is the first woman to chair the department since architecture education began at the HBCU in 1911.

Sherrilyn Ifill, president and director-counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, was elected to the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Board of Trustees.

The Institute of Contemporary Art Miami expanded its board of trustees, adding nine new board members, including Michael Chavies, a South Florida trial lawyer and litigation partner at Akerman LLP in Miami. | Press Release

In Santa Fe, N.M., the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum named eight new members to its board of trustees, including Anita Webber Smith of Webb Design Interior, based in Houston, Texas.



This fall, Phaidon will publish the first comprehensive monograph of Mickalene Thomas. Brooklyn-based Thomas makes powerful images of Black women. Informed by Western art history, 70s-era fashion and interiors, her work celebrates their diverse beauty and body types. Essays by Roxane Gay and Kellie Jones consider her two-decade career across painting, collage, photography, video, and installations. The fully illustrated volume is nearly 300 pages with more than 200 color images.


Julie Mehretu donated “Dissident Score” (2019-2021), a large-scale abstract painting to the Art for Justice Fund Benefit Auction on Artsy. The starting bid is $2.6 million. The auction ends June 10, 2021.


The 2021 Texas Biennial co‑organized by curators and artistic directors Ryan N. Dennis and Evan Garza announced 51 participating artists with connections to Texas, including Jamal Cyrus, Melvin Edwards, Ja’Tovia Gary, Trenton Doyle Hancock, Virginia Jaramillo, Autumn Knight, Rick Lowe, Sondra Perry, Kaneem Smith, Mich Stevenson, and Alisha Wormsley. Partnerships with the McNay Art Museum, Studio at Ruby City, San Antonio Museum of Art, and Artspace in San Antonio and FotoFest in Houston, were also announced. Originally planned for 2020, the biennial will explore the theme “A New Landscape / A Possible Horizon” and occur Sept. 1, 2021-Jan. 31, 2022. See full artist list

Public Art

In London, six artists were shortlisted for Trafalgar Square’s Fourth Plinth, including Samson Kambalu and Ibrahim Mahama. Models of the six proposals are on view at the National Gallery and the public can vote for their favorite through June 19, 2021. Two artists will be selected for the 2022 and 2024 commissions.

More News

John Sims, a Black artist-in-residence at 701 Center for Contemporary Art in Columbia, S.C., said he was in bed in the early morning hours of May 17 when police officers burst inside the apartment provided to him at the gallery. The officers guns were drawn and they offered no explanation before detaining him, the Florida-based artist said. | The Post and Courier


Inspired by the award-winning book by Jessica B. Harris, “High on the Hog: How African American Cuisine Transformed America” is a four-episode limited series. Benin artist Romuald Hazoumè is featured in the first episode. The series debuts on Netflix today (May 26). | Video by Netflix


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