Statements: African American Art from the Museum’s Collection January 23–September 25, 2016


Ahuja, Off the Edge

Mequitta Ahuja, Off the Edge, 2008, oil on canvas, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Museum purchase funded by the African American Art Advisory Association. © Mequitta Ahuja

Richmond Barthé, Feral Benga (Benga: Dance Figure), 1935, bronze, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Museum purchase funded by the African American Art Advisory Association. © Richmond Barthé Trust

Nick Cave, Soundsuit, 2011, found rugs and mixed media, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Museum purchase funded by Barbara and Michael Gamson in memory of Peter C. Marzio. © Nick Cave, courtesy of the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York

Gordon Parks, Children with Doll, Washington, D.C., 1942, printed later, gelatin silver print, printed later, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Museum purchase funded by Bill and Sara Morgan and Nina and Michael Zilkha in honor of Anne Wilkes Tucker on the occasion of her retirement.

Loretta Pettway, Log Cabin (Bricklayer), c. 1970, cotton denim, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Museum purchase

Ernest C. Withers, I Am A Man, Sanitation Workers Strike, Memphis, Tennessee, March 28, 1968, printed 1994, Gelatin silver print, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Museum purchase funded by the African American Art Advisory Association. © Estate of Ernest Withers

Melvin Edwards, Good Word from Cayenne, from the series Lynch Fragments, 1990, welded steel, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Museum purchase funded by the estate of Eleanor Freed Stern. © Melvin Edwards

Elizabeth Catlett, Standing Mother and Child, 1978, bronze with copper alloy on wood base, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Museum purchase funded by the African American Art Advisory Association. © Elizabeth Catlett/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY

Arthur "Art" Smith, Neckpiece (Positive/Negative), 1948, wire and sheet brass, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Museum purchase funded by the African American Art Advisory Association.

Statements: African American Art from the Museum’s Collection is the latest in a series of focused installations highlighting unique areas of strength in the collection of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. Featuring artists who have shaped the course of American art across eight decades, Statements brings together more than 40 works in a wide range of media, from Richmond Barthé’s iconic Feral Benga of 1935 to Mark Bradford’s Circa 1992, created in 2015.

The exhibition presents three interwoven themes, starting with the generation of artists who came of age between the 1930s and 1960s, including John Biggers, Elizabeth Catlett, Melvin Edwards, and Loretta Pettway. Viewed as pioneers, these leaders and mentors are celebrated not only for their forward-looking work, but also for the recognition they received that helped break down institutional barriers.

The second segment of Statements focuses on artists who charted America's changing social landscape from the 1950s forward. The rise of Civil Rights is represented through photographs by Louise Ozell Martin, Gordon Parks, and Ernest C. Withers. Other, more subjective examples, reflect both urban and rural experience, including works by Lonnie Holley, Jean Lacy, and Thornton Dial, Sr.

The final section focuses on contemporary artists who directly challenge stereotypes and map the complexities of identity politics through portraiture and narrative. Among the artists represented are Mequitta Ahuja, Nick Cave, Glenn Ligon, and Kara Walker, along with many who have a strong Houston presence today, including Dawolu Jabari Anderson, Michael Ray Charles, Trenton Doyle Hancock, and Tierney Malone.


This exhibition is organized by the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.

Generous funding is provided by:

Location

Audrey Jones Beck Building
5601 Main Street
Houston, TX 77005
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