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Frank Bowling, Middle Passage, 1970

Frank Bowling, Melvin Edwards, and Lorraine O'Grady, included in the group exhibition Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power, curated by Mark Godfrey and Zoe Whitley, at the Brooklyn Museum, New York, NY.

Press Release


Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power shines a light on a broad spectrum of Black artistic practice from 1963 to 1983, one of the most politically, socially, and aesthetically revolutionary periods in American history. Black artists across the country worked in communities, in collectives, and individually to create a range of art responsive to the moment—including figurative and abstract painting, prints, and photography; assemblage and sculpture; and performance.

Many of the over 150 artworks in the exhibition directly address the unjust social conditions facing Black Americans, such as Faith Ringgold’s painting featuring a “bleeding” flag and Emory Douglas’s graphic images of beleaguered Black city life. Additional works present oblique references to racial violence, such as Jack Whitten’s abstract tribute to Malcolm X, made in response to the activist's assassination, or Melvin Edwards’s contorted metal sculptures. Working as a collective, members of the AfriCOBRA group presented images of uplift and empowerment. Barkley Hendricks, Emma Amos, and others painted everyday portraits of Black people with reverence and wit. All the artists embraced a spirit of aesthetic innovation, but some took this as their primary goal, often through experiments with color and paint application.

This exhibition brings together for the first time the excitingly disparate practices of more than sixty Black artists from this important moment, offering an unparalleled opportunity to see their extraordinary works side by side.

Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power is organized by Tate Modern in collaboration with the Brooklyn Museum and Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, Arkansas, and The Broad, Los Angeles, and curated by Mark Godfrey, Senior Curator, International Art, and Zoe Whitley, Curator, International Art, Tate Modern. The Brooklyn Museum presentation is curated by Ashley James, Assistant Curator, Contemporary Art, Brooklyn Museum.

Leadership support for this exhibition is provided by the Ford Foundation, the Terra Foundation for American Art, Universal Music Group, and the Luce Foundation. Additional support is provided by the Brooklyn Museum's Contemporary Art Committee, the Arnold Lehman Exhibition Fund, Christie’s, Raymond Learsy, Saundra Williams-Cornwell and W. Don Cornwell, Crystal McCrary and Raymond J. McGuire, Megan and Hunter Gray, the Hayden Family Foundation, Carol Sutton Lewis and William Lewis, Valerie Gerrard Browne, Tracey and Phillip Riese, and Connie Rogers Tilton.

Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power

September 14, 2018 – February 3, 2019
Brooklyn Museum
200 Eastern Pkwy, Brooklyn, NY 11238