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

Portrait of Sam Gilliam (1933-2022). | Courtesy of David Kordansky Gallery, Los Angeles, and Pace Gallery. Photo by Fredrik Nilsen Studio


The innovative abstract artist Sam Gilliam (1933-2022) died on June 25 at his home in Washington, D.C. He was 88. Best known for his color-soaked sculptural paintings, unsupported by stretchers, he displayed the canvases in dramatic fashion, draped across walls and suspended from ceilings. Early in his career, at the height of the civil rights era when Black artists were expected to produce work that was representational, political, or both, he embraced abstraction, forging his own path. In 1972, Gilliam was the first African American artist to show his work at the Venice Biennale, where he was featured in a group show organized by Walter Hopps in the American Pavilion. Born in Tupelo, Miss., Gilliam lived and worked in Washington throughout most of his career. A major survey of the artist’s work, “Sam Gilliam: Full Circle,” is currently on view in his adopted hometown at the Smithsonian’s Hirshhorn Museum & Sculpture Garden. | Washington Post

Awards & Honors

Five winners of CAP Prize 2022 were announced: Amina Kadous, Remofiloe Nomandla Mayisela, Lee-Ann Olwage, Mahefa Dimbiniaina Randrianarivelo, and Pamela Tulizo. The Contemporary African Photography Prize is presented in partnership with the Eiger Foundation. | More

The shortlist for the Sobey Art Award 2022 celebrating contemporary artists in Canada was announced. The five finalists include Stanley Février, Azza El Siddique, and Tyshan Wright. The winner of the award funded by the Sobey Art Foundation and organized by the National Gallery of Canada, will be announced in November. | More


In Washington, D.C., the National Portrait Gallery launched a special collaborative project that coincides with the reinstallation of the Smithsonian museum’s permanent galleries. “Perspectives: The Atlantic’s Writers at the National Portrait Gallery” includes 13 portraits on display in the museum, with the selection expanded to 23 online. | Video by National Portrait Gallery


The Atlantic was founded in 1857 when “some of the country’s most esteemed writers gathered to launch a magazine, one that would argue against slavery and for the union.” With an initial focus on abolition, that mission has expanded to include racial justice and civil rights today. Through this lens, the magazine collaborated with the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C., on “Perspectives: The Atlantic’s Writers at the National Portrait Gallery.” The project invites contemporary writers from The Atlantic to interpret the museum’s wall texts for sitters such as Frederick Douglass, Martin Luther King Jr., John Lewis, W.E.B. Du Bois, A. Philip Randolph, and Booker T. Washington, historic figures who contributed writings to the magazine, whose activism helped shaped the nation. Marking the 165th anniversary of The Atlantic, the project can be viewed online and throughout the Smithsonian museum’s galleries. | More

July 1: Today is Alma Thomas Day in the artist’s hometown of Columbus, Ga. The occasion marks the opening of “Alma W. Thomas: Everything Is Beautiful” at The Columbus Museum, the last stop of the touring exhibition. The landmark show is presented in conjunction with “Sand Unshaken: The Origin Story of Alma Thomas,” which delves into the biography of Alma Thomas and features related personal objects and ephemera from the museum’s collection. | More

George Lucas and Mellody Hobson, the married co-founders of the forthcoming Museum of Narrative Art in Los Angeles, were honored at Museum of Modern Art’s Party in the Garden. Linda Goode Bryant, founder of Just Above Midtown Gallery, the focus of a special MoMA exhibition opening in October, was among the artists who gave remarks at the annual event. | Art Newspaper


Based in Wisconsin, the recently established Ruth Foundation for the Arts is endowed with a $440 million bequest from Ruth DeYoung Kohler II. Kohler led the John Michael Kohler Arts Center in Sheboygan, Wis., from 1972 to 2016. Her grandfather founded the Kohler plumbing fixture company. Selected by a group of artists, the foundation’s first round of $1.23 million in grants of $10,000 to $50,000 went to 78 arts organizations, including Afro Charities, Benny Andrews Estate, Black Lunch Table, BlackStar Projects, Griot Museum of Black History, Project Row Houses, The Black School, Tamir Rice Foundation, The Heidelberg Project, and The Laundromat Project. | New York Times


Artist Vaughn Spann with his family in the modern New Jersey home. | Photo by Max Burkhalte


Architectural Digest featured the mid-century modern home artist Vaughn Spann recently renovated for his young family in Maplewood, N.J. Paintings by the artist are displayed throughout the home alongside works by Stanley Whitney, Otis Kwame Kye Quaicoe, Marcus Brutus, Madelynn Green, Kenny Scharf, and Eden Seifu, among others. “We were looking for a modern house, so when we saw the For Sale sign, I was curious. We loved it immediately. Nothing was negotiable, like the crumbling stairs. It was take as is, so we did,” Spann said. | Architectural Digest

More News

The FBI raided the Orlando Museum of Art on June 24 seizing 25 paintings attributed to Jean-Michel Basquiat (1960-1988) that are believed to be fake. Days later, the museum’s director and CEO Aaron De Groft was fired. | New York Times

On June 16, Tommie Robinson‘s portrait of the late Judge James E. Lanning was unveiled at the Mecklenburg County Courthouse in Charlotte, N.C. A beloved local painter, Robinson is the first Black artist to have his work on display in the building and reportedly the first Black artist to have a portrait on view in a Southern courthouse. | Charlotte Post


Columbus, Ga.: In addition to the Alma Thomas exhibitions presented at The Columbus Museum, another local project pays tribute to the artist. The AJ McClung YMCA installed a mural on its facade that celebrates Thomas with a giant likeness. | Video by Columbus Ledger-Enquirer


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