Brooklyn Museum of Art

Brooklyn, NY



Committed to the Image: Contemporary Black Photographers at the Brooklyn Museum of Art

February 2 - April, 15, 2001


"Committed to the Image," one of the largest exhibitions of living African American photographers, will he on view at the Brooklyn Museum of Art from February 2 through April 15, 2001. It will include ninety-four photographers, with each represented by two worlds. (left: Gordon Parks, Children with Doll, 1942)

All of the artists in this exhibition were selected by a committee of four people, Anthony Barboza, founder of International Black Photographers; Beauford Smith, one of the founders of the Black Photographers Annual and Candid Photography; Orville Robertson, publisher and editor of the journal Fotophile and a freelance photographer and cinematographer since 1965; and Barbara Head Millstein, Curator of Photography at the Brooklyn Museum of Art and the organizer of this exhibition. All four worked together for over two years reviewing many slides and prints for the exhibition. The primary criteria for selection were originality, standard of printing, social or historical significance, and subject matter.

The ninety-four African American contemporary photographers represented in this exhibition have used their cameras as tools of social commentary and personal and artistic exploration, bearing witness to changes in the world over the past fifty years. These uncompromising, thought-provoking, often highly politicized images cover such subjects as the daily lives of people of African descent; powerful moments during the battle for Civil Rights, the history of black musicianship and the influence of African American art, literature, and ideals on beauty on society at large. African American artists, philosophers, writers, poets, musicians, politicians, and sports heroes are featured throughout. Some of the images address such issues as African American standing within society and their search for identity in an often-inhospitable landscape. (left: Stephen Marc, Untitled, 1999)

The photographers featured, all working today and most of them at the height of their productivity; come from every region of the United States; together, their work represents and explores the variety of people of African descent in communities across the nation and around the world. (left: C. W. Griffin, Mealtime, 1974)

The photographs in the exhibition give expression to many and varied subjects - from the more traditional image of the struggles of the Civil Rights movement such as Ernest Wither's Martin Luther King, Jr. Confronted by the Police at Medgar Evers' Funeral to more recent photographs by younger photographers.

The exhibit also explores technical and aesthetic innovations like Cynthia Wiggins' Don't Hate Me Because I'm Beautiful. Many photographs have political themes such as the work of Salimah Ali, Kwame Brathwaite, and Ozier Muhammad, others explore the emergence of a black middle class like Jeffrey Henson Scales' American Gothic. (left: Kwame Brathwaite, James Brown, 1988)

The exhibition includes work by seasoned photographers such as Gordon Parks, Carrie Mae Weems, and Albert Chong as well as a generation of younger artists, among them Fern Logan, Stephen Marc, Oggi Ogburn, Accra Shepp, and Budd Williams.

From left to right: Jeffrey Henson Scales, American Gothic, 1993; Delphine A, Fawundo, Black Love Series, 1995; Bob Greene, Untitled, New Guinea, 1994; Leroy W. Henderson, Untitled, 1989; Jim Collier, Mom Sweeps Yard; Tony Gleaton, Black Girl, White Flower, 1992

The exhibition will be accompanied by a catalogue published by Merrell.. It will include essays by Deba P. Patnaik, a poet, translator, and critic who has written widely about contemporary photography, and Clyde Taylor, a film historian, cultural critic, and essayist.

Read more in Resource Library Magazine about the Brooklyn Museum of Art

Please click on thumbnail images bordered by a red line to see enlargements.

This page was originally published in Resource Library Magazine. Please see Resource Library's Overview section for more information. rev. 4/6/11

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