Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power

D.A.P. Sept. 2017. 256p. ed. by Mark Godfrey & . illus. notes. ISBN 9781942884170. $39.95. FINE ARTS
OrangeReviewStarWith increased attention being paid to racial tensions and conflicts, the focus of this title seems especially relevant. This accompaniment to a show at London's Tate Gallery details the extent and range of African American art from 1963 to 1983, when the struggle for civil rights became transformative for America. Like the earlier Harlem Renaissance, this era marked another emergence of artworks by and about black Americans. Artists featured include David Hammons, Howardina Pindell, Romare Bearden, Senga Nengudi, Noah Purifoy, Faith Ringgold, Betye Saar, and many others. The work ranges from the overtly political to more subtle comments on the black experience to abstract imagery, including a wide variety of media, primarily painting, prints, and photography. Co-curators Godfrey and Whitley organize the art around seminal events of the period, artist's groups, geographic variations, styles, etc. A number of commentators concisely offer an understanding of the trends revealed by the art.
VERDICT Widely recommended. The very nature of the history of American art is greatly expanded by the recognition of the existence and importance of the works discussed and depicted here.
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