The Soul of a Nation Reader: Writings by and About Black American Artists, 1960–1980

Gregory R. Miller. Jun. 2021. 628p. ed. by Mark Godfrey & Allie Biswas. ISBN 9781941366325. pap. $39.95. FINE ARTS
This companion to the touring exhibition of the same name is an important contribution to American art and political history. In addition to mainstream news sources and magazines, articles and excerpts culled from Black presses, exhibition catalogues, self-published pamphlets, gallery guides, interviews, and transcripts from roundtables and lectures, are included. A brief introduction provides valuable context for each of the 230 selections, many now out of print. A number of these address the question of a Black aesthetic and the responsibility of Black artists. Critics and artists often held “radically different” views on these topics and the writings effectively capture an era of fierce debate and penetrating reflection. Contributions on where and how Black artists were and weren’t being exhibited, and the rise of cultural organizations that challenged museum practices, make equally compelling reading. An inset of 20 color reproductions showcases the covers of seminal exhibition catalogues, magazine issues, journals, and pamphlets.
VERDICT Comprehensive and core.
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