Elegant. Refined. Exclusionary. Interrupted. The foundations of the fine art world are shaking. Beyoncé and Jay-Z break the internet by blending modern Black culture with fine art in their iconic music video filmed in the Louvre. Kehinde Wiley powerfully subverts European masterworks.
Calls resonate for diversity in museums and the resignations of leaders of the old guard. It’s clear that modern day museums can no longer exist without change—and without recognizing that Black people have been a part of the Western art world since its beginnings. Quietly held within museum and private collections around the world are hundreds of faces of Black men and women, many of their stories unknown. From paintings of majestic kings to a portrait of a young girl named Isabella in Amsterdam, these models lived diverse lives while helping shape the art world along the way.
Then, after hundreds of years of Black faces cast as only the subject of the white gaze, a small group of trailblazing Black American painters and sculptors reached national and international fame, setting the stage for the flourishing of Black art in the 1920s and beyond. Captivating and informative, BLK ART is an essential work that elevates a globally dismissed legacy to its proper place in the mainstream art canon.