African Modernisms: A Legacy of Connection
This program was streamed live from The Africa Center @ Aliko Dangote Hall on Wednesday, April 26th at 6:30PM. You can watch the entire program below:
This program presented in partnership with the American Federation of Arts explores creative exchanges between artists working in Africa and the United States in the 1950s–70s, through a conversation between three curators whose current exhibition projects bring fresh perspectives to African modernism and its influence around the world.
Lauren Tate Baeza will introduce Bruce Onobrakpeya: The Mask and the Cross, the first solo exhibition at an American museum for sculptor and printmaker Bruce Onobrakpeya, one of the fathers of Nigerian modernism. Kimberli Gant will share her work on Black Orpheus: Jacob Lawrence and the Mbari Club, an exhibition exploring the connection between African American artist Jacob Lawrence and his contemporaries based in the Global South through the Nigerian journal Black Orpheus. And Perrin Lathrop will present on African Modernism in America, the first major traveling exhibition to examine the complex connections between modern African artists and American patrons, artists, and cultural organizations amid the interlocking histories of civil rights, decolonization, and the Cold War.
Drawing on their individual expertise and shared interests, the three curators will reveal the important artistic networks activated by African and African American artists in the mid-20th century, consider why these stories are largely missing from established narratives about art history, and propose ways that they can guide efforts to nurture creative connections between Africa and America today.
The conversation will be moderated by Serubiri Moses.
Bruce Onobrakpeya: The Mask and the Cross is currently open at the High Museum of Art, Atlanta.
Black Orpheus: Jacob Lawrence and the Mbari Club is currently on view at New Orleans Museum of Art.
African Modernism in America is currently on view at the Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum, Saint Louis.
Lauren Tate Baeza, is the Fred and Rita Richman Curator of African Art at the High Museum of Art. Baeza is a scholar of African art and political history, and previously served as the Director of Exhibitions at the National Center for Civil and Human Rights, where she curated the Morehouse College Martin Luther King Jr. Collection and organized numerous temporary exhibits engaging the visual arts to address social issues. At the Center, she partnered with Art for Amnesty, Oculus, ESPN, the City of Atlanta, the State of Georgia, and foreign embassies and consulates to create exhibitions examining topics r
Kimberli Gant, PhD is the Curator of Modern & Contemporary Art at the Brooklyn Museum of Art. She was previously the McKinnon Curator of Modern & Contemporary Art at the Chrysler Museum in Norfolk, VA, and has also worked as the Mellon Doctoral Fellow at the Newark Museum, and Director of Exhibitions at the Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Art (MoCADA).
She has curated numerous exhibitions and gallery reinstallations including Black Orpheus: Jacob Lawrence & the Mbari Club (2022-23), Journeys Across the Border: U.S. & Mexico (2021-22), Tuan Andrew Nguyen: The Boat People (2021), Brendan Fernandes: Bodily Forms (2020), and John Akomfrah: Tropikos (2019). Gant received her PhD in Art History from the University of Texas Austin (2017), and holds both a MA and BA in Art History from Columbia University (2009) and Pitzer College (2002).
Gant has published scholarly work in academic books, such as Anywhere But Here: Black Intellectuals in the Atlantic World and Beyond (2015), art publications such as NKA: Journal of Contemporary African Art, Art Lies and African Arts, and exhibition catalogues for The Newark Museum, The Contemporary Austin, the Studio Museum of Harlem, MoCADA, Paris Photo, and the Centre for Contemporary Art Lagos.
Perrin Lathrop, PhD joined the Princeton University Art Museum as Assistant Curator of African Art in 2022. She was previously Postdoctoral Fellow in Modern and Contemporary Art History at the University of Maryland-Phillips Collection (2021–22), the Warhol Foundation Curatorial Fellow at Fisk University Galleries (2018–19), and Predoctoral Fellow at the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art (2017–18). As a curatorial associate in the arts of global Africa at the Newark Museum (2012–2013), Perrin curated The Art of Translation: The Simon Ottenberg Gift of Modern and Contemporary Nigerian Art. She received her PhD from Princeton University in the Department of Art & Archaeology with a Graduate Certificate in African American Studies in 2021. Her research, teaching, and curatorial work explore the interlocking intellectual histories and networks of nationalism, Pan-Africanism, and modernism that informed art produced under the strictures of colonialism in Africa. Perrin is co-curator of the traveling exhibition African Modernism in America with Fisk University Galleries and the American Federation of Arts and editor of its accompanying publication.
Jacob Lawrence (American, 1917–2000), Market Scene, 1966, Gouache on paper, Chrysler Museum of Art, Museum purchase, 2018.22, © 2022 The Jacob and Gwendolyn Knight Lawrence Foundation, Seattle / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.
Ibrahim El-Salahi (b. 1930, Sudan) Vision of the Tomb, 1965. Oil on canvas. 36 x 36 in. Courtesy The Africa Center, New York. © Ibrahim El-Salahi, courtesy Vigo Gallery. All rights reserved, ARS, NY 2022
Bruce Onobrakpeya (Nigerian, born 1932), Station IX: Jesus falls the third time, 1969, linoleum block print on rice paper, High Museum of Art, Atlanta, gift of Mr. George A. Naifeh, 2006.228.9. © Bruce Onobrakpeya. Photo courtesy High Museum of Art.