’30 Americans’ Brings Work of Contemporary Black Artists Together in D.C.

A new art exhibition in Washington, D.C. brings some of the most provocative blacks artists of the last three decades together.

By Jorge Rivas Sep 30, 2011

This fall the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, DC will present the show "30 Americans," a wide-ranging survey of works by many of the most influential African-American contemporary artists of the last three decades. Jean-Michel Basquiat, Kehinde Wiley, Kara Walker and Xaviera Simmons are just a few of the 31 black artists in the show that includes paintings, sculptures, drawings, photographs, and videos. TheRoot.com featured a slideshow from the exhibit today.

The exhibition explores artistic influence across generations and sheds light on issues of racial, sexual and historical identity. Even the show’s title is a bold political statement on its own. The Rubell Family, who own all the pieces in the show, left "African-American" out of the exhibition name for a reason: "As the show evolved, we decided to call it "30 Americans."  "’Americans,’ rather than ‘African Americans’ or ‘Black Americans’ because nationality is a statement of fact, while racial identity is a question each artist answers in his or her own way, or not at all."

The exhibit will be on display beginning October 1 though February 12, 2012 at Corcoran Gallery is Washington, DC.

Below you’ll find a few of the artists and their work that’s included in the show.

On a related note, if you’re interested in learning more about the concept of "post-black art" listen to Studio Museum in Harlem Director and Chief Curator Thelma Golden in conversation at a Brooklyn Museum talk titled "What’s Black Got to Do With It."

Kehinde Wiley, Sleep, 2008 Courtesy of Rubell Family Collection, Miami

His hyper-realism paintings of men of color in heroic, majestic, or bucolic settings deliberately reference works by the Old European Masters.

Xaviera Simmons, One Day and Back Then (Standing), 2007
Courtesy of Rubell Family Collection, Miami

Simmons earned her B.F.A. in photography from Bard College in 2004. Her work includes photographs, installations, video works, performances and audio pieces.

Nick Cave
Soundsuit, 2008
Courtesy of Rubell Family Collection, Miami

Cave, a trained dancer, created this suit to be worn as a performance costume.

Jean-Michel Basquiat, Bird On Money, 1981 Courtesy of Rubell Family Collection, Miami

Hank Willis Thomas, Basketball and Chain (2003) Courtesy of Rubell Family Collection, Miami

Thomas’ work is inspired by the way advertising is meant to infiltrate the consciousness of black people. Here, he equates the way black bodies are used to sell products with slavery.

Mickalene Thomas, Baby I Am Ready Now, 2007 (Acrylic, rhinestone and enamel on wooden panel) Courtesy of Rubell Family Collection, Miami

Hat Tip: The Root