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Back to Black: Art, Cinema and the Racial Imaginary

Group show at The New Art Gallery Walsall, Whitechapel Art Gallery. 2005
Date: 7 June, 2005 until 4 September, 2005
Curator: Richard J Powell, David A Bailey, Petrine Archer-S
Organiser: Whitechapel Art Gallery

Back to Black was a large-scale exhibition held at Whitechapel Art Gallery and subsequently at The New Art Gallery Walsall in 2005. It was a major centrepiece of Africa 05 and was curated by David A. Bailey (UK), Richard J. Powell (USA) and Petrine Archer-Straw (Jamaica).

Back to Black: Art, Cinema and the Racial Imaginary focuses on the rise of the Black Arts Movement in the US, Britain and Jamaica in the 1960s & 1970s, bringing together over forty artists whose work defined the emergence of a radical & powerful aesthetic. Their work testifies to a complex & widespread range of influences, breathtaking in their geographic, temporal and cultural sweep. African symbols & traditions blend with images of contemporary life; the symbols of radical, militant activism with an imagined Afrofuturism. Played out across the broad cultural spectrum to encompass the visual arts, film, music & fashion, their work reveals a common visual language shared among artists across the Black Atlantic, and profoundly influential to subsequent generations. We hope the exhibition will address a lacuna in standard narratives of modern and contemporary visual culture by contributing a scholarly understanding of this important black cultural legacy. Back to Black is part of Africa 2005, a year-long celebration of contemporary & past cultures from across the continent & the Diaspora which embraces the diversity of arts, heritage & audience” Back to Black was first conceived by David A. Bailey & Richard J. Powell, who were later joined by Petrine Archer-Straw.

From the Preface of the Back to Black catalogue by Iwona Blazwick, (Whitechapel), Andrea Tarzia (Whitechapel) and Stephen Snoddy (Walsall)

Related items

click to show details of Back to Black - brochure

»  Back to Black - brochure

Brochure relating to an exhibition, 2005

click to show details of Back to Black - catalogue

»  Back to Black - catalogue

Catalogue relating to an exhibition, 2005

click to show details of Back to Black: art, cinema and the racial imaginary

»  Back to Black: art, cinema and the racial imaginary

Review relating to an exhibition, 2005

click to show details of How Sweet It Was

»  How Sweet It Was

Article relating to an exhibition, 2005

People in this exhibition + view all 46

»  Melvin Van Peebles

Born, 1932

»  Charles White

Born, 1918. Died, 1979

»  Aubrey Williams

Born, 1926 in Georgetown, Guyana. Died, 1990

»  Llewellyn Xavier

Born, 1945 in St Lucia

Exhibition venues

»  The New Art Gallery Walsall

Walsall, United Kingdom

»  Whitechapel Art Gallery

London, United Kingdom

Back to Black: art, cinema and the racial imaginary

Review relating to an exhibition, 2005
Published by: Art Papers
Year published: 2005
Unpaginated.

image of Back to Black: art, cinema and the racial imaginary

2 sheets A4 portrait/colour copy from original/Review taken from Art Papers, issue 5, September - October 2005/page 59-60

Title: Back to Black: Art, Cinema and the Radical Imaginary
Author: Eddie Chambers
Review is accompanied by a photographic reproduction: Barkley L. Hendricks, Blood, 1975 - oil and acrylic on canvas, 183x127 cm (courtesy of ACA Galleries, New York)

Review of the large group exhibition at the Whitechapel Gallery, London - From the text: “For the most part, Back to Black pays homage to the incredible and potent work of the Black Art(s) Movement from the mid 1960’s to the mid 1070s. Within the USA, this episode has previously been celebrated in exhibitions such as 19 Sixties: A Cultural Awakening Re-evaluated, 1965-1975 at the California Afro-American Museum in Los Angeles in 1989 and Tradition and Conflict: Images of a Turbulent Decade 1963 - 1973 at The Studio Museum in Harlem in 1985. Indeed, much of the fine art and photography in Back to Black had previously put in an appearance in one or both of these American exhibitions.”

Related people + view all 50

»  Manthia Diawara

Born, 1953 in Mali

»  Barkley L. Hendricks

Born, 1945 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA. Died, 2017

»  Kofi Kayiga

Born, 1943 in Kingston, Jamaica

»  Ed Love

Born, 1936 in Los Angeles, California, USA

»  Llewellyn Xavier

Born, 1945 in St Lucia

Related exhibitions

Related venues

»  The New Art Gallery Walsall

Walsall, United Kingdom

»  Whitechapel Art Gallery

London, United Kingdom