Black Art is evolving, and we’ve curated a few books to help you get you or your art-loving friends a good feel on the current state of Black art. We’re not experts by a long shot, and this is solely our opinion along with customers who are deep art lovers. Feel free to add more books in the comments section as we plan to grow this list.
We Are Here: Visionaries of Color Transforming the Art World by Jasmin Hernandez
We Are Here is based on the website Gallery Gurls which was founded by Jasmin Hernandez in 2012. The book is about emerging and established artists of color, and their background in the art world. You’ll find unique interviews with all fifty artists, posed photos, and images of their work from photography to sculpting to painting. A few of the featured artists include Firelei Báez, Tourmaline, Derek Fordjour, Genevieve Gaignard, and Renee Cox.
The interviews are what really make this book stand out. From each artist, you get a rich story and learn more about the cultural history behind their work.
This book is at NiLu! In our opinion, it's important as it includes a wide range of artists, curators, and community leaders on the come up – especially the LGBTQ community. Personally, we love the book’s layout and Q&A format, so you get to know the artist.
Soul of A Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power
Contributors: Linda Goode Bryant, Susan E. Cahan, David Driskell, Edmund Barry Gaither, Mark Godfrey, Jae Jarrell, Wadsworth Jarrell, Samella Lewis, Zoe Whitley.
Soul of A Nation is more art history leaning. It focuses on artists from the early sixties to the early eighties, a significant period of American history for Black folks. This was the hippie generation, the Vietnam War, the Civil Rights Movement, and the Nixon era to name a few standouts. It features artists like Sam Gilliam, Melvin Edwards, Jack Whitten, William T. Williams, Howardina Pindell, Romare Bearden, David Hammons, and Barkley L. Hendricks.
The book also includes essays from art historians Mark Godfrey and Zoe Whitley.
Highly recommended for anyone interested in art history.
“Soul of a Nation is a significant and transformative contribution to art history – and American history. Richly informative and deeply engaging, this volume documents the powerful role black artists had in shaping contemporary art and our society at a pivotal moment in history. It is sure to be a profoundly valuable resource … for decades to come.”
-Thelma Golden, Studio Museum in Harlem
Among Others: Blackness at MoMa by Mabel O. Wilson
This book explores the often uneven and problematic relationship the Modern Museum of Art (MOMA) has with Black artists. It’s a collection of essays reflecting on Black work in MOMA and how that work fits into the museum’s racial history. Especially the work that discusses race-related subjects.
If you’re looking for social commentary on art, this is the book for you.
“This book is exemplary for its combination of new research, interpretive analysis, and quantities of information. Given free rein in the Museum of Modern Art’s archives, the authors mined the untold story of the museum’s fraught relationship with race in general and black artists and their work in particular.”
-New York Times Review, Roberta Smith
We hope you liked our list of Black art books. It’s definitely not a complete list but a great place to start. The first book, We Are Here, is available at NiLu, so feel free to stop by and give it a read-through.
To sign off, here’s a Black art quote we enjoy:
“Artists have the job of documenting their times”
- Faith Ringgold.
Until then, stay blessed!