Culture Type is celebrating its 10th anniversary (2013-2023): A decade of art, history, and culture from a Black perspective

CULTURE TYPE first launched a decade ago. Over the years, the most read posts have explored key artists, exhibitions, and curatorial appointments. Exhibition coverage that has drawn the most attention, did not focus on New York, but rather shows in Los Angeles, Orlando, Fla., and Washington, D.C. The latter was the most read post of all time, a review of “UnSeen: Our Past in a New Light, Ken Gonzales-Day and Titus Kaphar,” a two-artist show at the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery. Other popular posts featured a retrospective of pro football player-turned-artist Ernie Barnes, space paintings by Alma Thomas, painters known as the Florida Highwaymen, and children’s books exploring the lives of Black artists.

After garnering great interest when they were initially published, the articles have drawn new and repeat readers year after year. Culture Type’s Top 10 Most Read Posts from 2013-23 are cited below. The list includes publication dates for each post and the number of views received thus far:


TITUS KAPHAR, “Drawing the Blinds,” 2014 (oil on canvas). | Collection of Dr. Charles M. Boyd, © Titus Kaphar. Courtesy of the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York

1. National Portrait Gallery: Titus Kaphar and Ken Gonzales-Day Explore ‘UnSeen’ Narratives in Historic Portraiture | Published March 28, 2018, Views: 64,508

“UnSeen: Our Past in a New Light, Ken Gonzales-Day and Titus Kaphar” at the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C., explored how the absence of African Americans, Latino Americans, and Native Americans in historical portraiture has influenced our understanding of U.S. history. The post was published after a preview of the exhibition for members of the press with the artists and co-curators, all of whom spoke about the work and how the themes of the show connected the artists.


ERNIE BARNES, “The Sugar Shack,” 1976 (acrylic on canvas). | Collection of William O. Perkins III and Lara Perkins. © Ernie Barnes Family Trust

2. Ernie Barnes Retrospective Brings Renewed Attention to African American Artist Who Found Fame After Playing Pro Football | Published Sept. 6, 2019, Views: 42,805

Three years before “Sugar Shack” (1976) by Ernie Barnes sold for a record-shattering and international headline-making nearly $15.3 million at a Christie’s auction in New York, the iconic painting was on view in a rare retrospective of Barnes at the California African American Museum in Los Angeles. Guest curated by Bridget R. Cooks, the exhibition presented more than 50 works made between 1962 and 2007. This post explores the exhibition and provides a comprehensive overview of Barnes’s life and practice.


NJIDEKA AKUNYILI-CROSBY, “I Still Face You,” 2015 (acrylic, charcoal, colored pencils, collage, and Xerox transfers on paper). | Courtesy of the artist and Victoria Miro, London. Photo by Jason Wyche

3. Where My Girls At? 20 Black Female Artists with Solo Exhibitions on View this Fall | Published Oct. 27, 2015, Views: 41,383

The experiences of female artists differ greatly from those of male artists in terms of exhibition opportunities, museum acquisitions, gallery representation, auction values, and more. Women don’t fare nearly as well. With this enduring gap in mind, Culture Type published a survey dedicated exclusively to exhibitions of Black female artists. The selection featured many milestone presentations, including Njideka Akunyili Crosby’s first shows in her adopted hometown of Los Angeles.


ALFRED HAIR, “Untitled (Beach Scene with Palms),” n.d. (oil on board, 24 x 36 inches). | © 2017 Doretha Hair Truesdell, Courtesy the Lightle Collection. Photo by Tariq Gibran

4. Beginning in Late 1950s, African American Painters Known as ‘Highwaymen’ Captured Florida’s Natural Landscapes. | Published April 13, 2020, Views: 41,076

The Florida Highwaymen, a group of mostly self-taught African American artists, created a cottage industry painting Florida landscapes featuring sandy beaches, ocean tides, grassy marshes, and tropical sunsets. They got started in the 1950s, working fast, producing large quantities, and selling the paintings out of the trunks of their cars for relatively affordable prices, just $25 or $35. This post provides a capsule history of the group (which included one woman) on the occasion of “Living Color: The Art of the Highwaymen” at the Orlando Museum of Art. The exhibition featured 100 paintings made between the 1950s and 1980 from five private collections.


5. On the Rise: 47 Curators and Arts Leaders Who Took on New Appointments in 2019. | Published Dec. 27, 2019, Views: 35,343

Culture Type began reporting on curatorial and arts leadership appointments in an effort to monitor opportunities in the field, particularly in art museums where people of color have historically been underrepresented. The fourth installment reporting on 2019 appointments was particularly notable because a significant number of Black curators and executives joined major institutions in high-ranking positions, including Lonnie G. Bunch III, who became head of the entire Smithsonian Institution.


alma thmas - mars dust - whitney museum
ALMA THOMAS, “Mars Dust,” 1972 (acrylic on canvas, 69 1/4 × 57 1/8 inches / 175.9 × 145.1 cm). | © artist or artist’s estate. Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Purchase 1972.58

6. 50 Years Ago, Alma Thomas Made ‘Space’ Paintings that Imagined the Moon and Mars. | July 6, 2019, Views: 27,429

Alma Thomas is known for her abstract paintings, mesmerizing works defined by exuberant color and rhythmic pattern. The beauty of nature—found among the trees and flowers outside her kitchen window—was an enduring influence on her output. This post focuses on space, which also inspired Thomas. When Apollo 11 landed on the moon in 1969, she was fascinated. In the years following, she made a remarkable series of “Space” paintings that imagined the moon walk, views of the Earth’s surface from outer space, and Apollo’s water landings.


7. Next: 28 Art Curators to Watch Who Took on New Appointments in 2018. | Published Dec. 29, 2018, Views: 27,175

Since 2016, Culture Type has been reporting on curatorial and arts leadership appointments. In 2018, the roundup of curators to watch featured new appointments at museums and other institutions, as well as short-term posts at major U.S. art fairs and biennials, nearly all of which were influenced by Black curators in the following season. From the Armory Show to Frieze in New York and Los Angeles, Expo Chicago, and the Whitney Biennial, Black curators were named artistic directors, tapped to select participating artists and galleries, and recruited to organize public programming.


Lot 19: KERRY JAMES MARSHALL, “Vignette 19,” 2014 (acrylic on PVC, 71 3/4 by 60 inches / 182.2 by 152.4 cm). | Estimate $6.5 million-$7.5 million. Sold for $18,488,000 fees included ($16 million hammer price). SECOND-HIGHEST PRICE AT AUCTION

8. Kerry James Marshall Painting Goes For Nearly $18.5 Million at Sotheby’s, Second-Highest Price at Auction for a Work by a Living African American Artist. | Published Nov. 16, 2019, Views: 21,168

The greatness of Kerry James Marshall’s practice was explored in his 30-year traveling retrospective “Kerry James Marshall: Mastry.” The strength of the market for his work was subsequently showcased at Sotheby’s auctions. This post reports on “Vignette 19” (2014), an image of Black love. On Nov. 14, 2019, the Marshall painting sold for $18,488,000, more than twice the high estimate. The historic result is the second-highest price ever paid at auction for a work by a living African American artist. The record is held by another Marshall painting, “Past Times” (1997) which sold for $21.1 million in May 2018.


Clockwise, from top left, Books about artists Jacob Lawrence, Gordon Parks, Clementine Hunter, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Romare Bearden, and Bill Traylor

9. Black Art History: 10 Children’s Books Illuminate the Lives of Important African American Artists and Photographers. | Published Feb. 24, 2017, Views: 20,988

The selection of children’s books exploring the lives of important African American historic and cultural figures began to blossom in the 1990s, but stories about Black visual artists have been harder to come by until more recently. Books on Benny Andrews, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Gordon Parks, Clementine Hunter, and James Van Der Zee are among those highlighted in this post.


FAITH RINGGOLD, “Flag Story quilt,” 1985 (cotton canvas, dyeing, piecing, appliqué, ink, 57 x 78 1/16 inches). | Museum purchase: Peter T. Bohan Art Acquisition Fund, 1991.0040

10. For Faith Ringgold, the American Flag Has Always Been a Potent and Powerful Symbol. | Published July 4, 2018, Views: 19,292

In the 1960s, 70s, and 80s, Faith Ringgold cleverly employed the symbolism of the American flag to explore race and political issues. Enhancing the universally recognized design with graphics and text, she made prints, paintings, and quilts. In a painting from 1969, she expressed the stark reality of the racial climate in America, incorporating the word “Die” in the field of stars and “Nigger” within the stripes. Her “Flag Story Quilt” (1985) featured an entire narrative, “a heart-wrenching tale of racism about a tragic black male hero.” Published on the fourth of July, this post explores Ringgold’s use of the flag and the power of the poignant works. CT


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