Ever wondered why black art is primarily limited to portraits. Very often, collectors prize their wooden or clay sculptures of black figures, often highlighted with prodigious lips, large busts, butts, overhanging guts and barefooted.
The white male did not anticipate the ferocious appetite, his woman would have for the black lover, (Jack Johnson) and neither did he for the black female, e.g. DIRK NOWITZKI (NBA star) President Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings. Portrait artists: Rembrandt, Rockwell, Picasso, dominated the art world. Sophia Lauren changed all that, with luscious lips reminiscent of the black woman, “hello!” Kim Kardashian!
Then the art of Surrealism splashed on the world scene. Salvador Dali with his half moon mustache, pirouetted a taste for the provocateur, forced viewers to “think agonizingly” what his work was saying. Art was no longer obvious, it became abstract.
What black artists could join the portfolio of Renaissance Masters? Black thought was not intriguing enough to be sculpted, painted, and be placed in museums of world renown.
However, black artists continued to work, to produce work to be seen in private homes, running parallel to the “juke joints” and “speak eases” where struggling musicians honed their craft, waiting for that one day!
That day came in the 1990’s. Today, the Baltimore Museum of Art has put on display, a take a deep breath exhibition of Black Abstract Art, entitled, GENERATIONS. Works that are 20 feet wide, by 18 feet high.
FRANK BOWLING, is from BARTICA, GUYANA (my birth country), where he has replaced his mother’s portrait with colors to reflect “emotions, truth and clarity”, his words.
Leonardo Drew, Number 525, will occupy two of your standard bedrooms. This piece is menacing, imposing, and extremely delicate. He says it is a “metaphor of birth, life, death and regeneration”
There are over 70 such pieces, but you cannot tour this exhibition without the booklet, and spend at least an hour.
But where did all this art come from? If they were not in museums until now, did someone have the means, not only to buy these works, but to house them in some massive warehouse, with 50 feet ceilings ?
Pamela Joyner and her husband Alfred J.Giuffrida, are the procurers, of these works. Ms. Joyner travelled to the BMA, for the presentation. We talked: