Black Arts Movement Works Acquired by Brooklyn Museum

UrbanWallSuitJae Jarrell’s “Urban Wall Suit,” from 1969, recently bought by the Brooklyn Museum.

As the curator of American art at the Brooklyn Museum began work on an exhibition to coincide with next year’s anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, she happened on a trove of works from the Black Arts Movement, the cultural arm of the black power movement of the 1960s and ’70s, the New York Times reported.

Noticing that the collection bridged two generations of works already among the museum’s holdings — by earlier African-American artists like John Biggers, Sargent Johnson and Lois Mailou Jones, and by their contemporary successors — the curator, Teresa A. Carbone, persuaded the museum to acquire it.

“Even at a time when people are more aware of the established canon of black artists,” Ms. Carbone said, “these artists are only now gaining the recognition they deserve.”

The collection — 44 works by 26 artists — was assembled by David Lusenhop, a former Chicago dealer now living in Detroit, and his colleague Melissa Azzi. About a dozen years ago the two began buying pieces they felt were prime examples of the Black Arts Movement.

The works include Wadsworth Jarrell’s “Revolutionary,” from 1971, a 5-by-4-foot acrylic painting of Angela Davis rendered in Day-Glo colors; and “Urban Wall Suit,” a patchwork woman’s garment meant to resemble a graffiti-covered brick wall, by Mr. Jarrell’s wife, Jae, and Jeff Donaldson’s watercolor “Wives of Shango,” both from 1969.

“This material is now incredibly rare,” Ms. Carbone said.

In March she will start putting some of the acquisitions in the museum’s American Identities galleries. “So much of what we do is tied up with respect to our community,” she explained. “It will be incredibly resonant for people who lived through the civil rights movement, and surprising for a younger generation unfamiliar with the cultural history of the 1960s.”

To read the rest of the article by Carol Vogel, go to: nytimes.com

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