Pure Soul

The Brooklyn Museum is hosting a lavish and compelling show focused on the dynamic influence and effective power of art created by black artists to propel social awareness and induce cultural change during a revolutionary period in American history.

Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power begins with lush paintings from the mid-20th century and concludes with provocative mixed media pieces of the 1980’s, surveying the side-by-side historical aspects of African American issues and their aesthetic innovations.

From early collectives to contemporary singular voices, the work is sometimes raw with righteous anger; at other times poignant and longing; and at further times illuminating and celebratory as recognition and civil rights issues dominate the themes of the artists on display.

At a time when black artists struggled to gain notice and entrée into the world of galleries and museum acquisitions, the exhibition takes an even more important role in showcasing the march toward equal opportunity. The sheer volume of work, which covers two floors of the museum, proves the prolific efforts of those artists featured. Producing art was essential in solidifying and maintaining unified thought to keep the cause vital.

These artists issued a challenge to the status quo and showed another way to fight for justice and, through their efforts, change ultimately came. Proving that art has the greatest power.

Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power runs through February 3 and I highly recommend it!

And with that, I believe the work should speak for itself. Below is a sampling of exhibited pieces.

Special Note: Feature image is by Benny Andrews and is titled “Did the Bear Sit Under a Tree?”, 1969, Oil, fabric and zipper on canvas.

Soul Image 1

Richard Mayhew, Pastoral, 1963, Oil on canvas.

Soul Image 3

Soul Image 2

Elizabeth Catlett, Black Unity, 1968, Cedar wood.

Soul Image 4

John Outterbridge, Traditional Hang Up (Containment Series), Mixed media.

Soul Image 5

Gerald Williams, Say It Loud, 1969, Acrylic on linen.

Soul Image 6

Sam Gilliam, Carousel Change, 1970, Acrylic paint on canvas and leather string.

Soul Image 7

William T. Williams, Trane, 1969, Acrylic on canvas.

Soul Image 8

Virginia Jaramillo, Untitled, 1971, Acrylic on canvas.

Soul Image 9

Frank Bowling, Texas Louise, 1971, Acrylic on canvas.

Soul Image 10

Barkley Hendricks, What’s Going On, 1974, Oil, acrylic and acrylic resin on canvas.

Soul Image 11

Fred Eversley, Untitled, 1972, Cast polyester resin.

Soul Image 12

David Hammons, Bag Lady in Flight, 1975, Shopping bags, grease and hair.