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The Rise of Contemporary Black Artists in the Art World

The importance and legacy of contemporary and historical black artists.

Exploring the success and overshadowing of Black Artists and their contributions to the practice

The Practise of Contemporary art

Contemporary art refers to art that is produced and manufactured by artists today. Art is a diverse and polysemic term that many mediums can use.

History of Art

The contemporary art period is an outcome of the modern art era, referring to pieces produced between the 1850s to the mid-1900s alongside the industrial revolution. This era was an experiment for many artists, fluctuating with color and form and embracing abstract expressionism movements. Notable names include Vincent Van Gogh and Andy Warhol, and they are remembered globally for their influential and alternative pieces. Yet, exploring art history highlights neglect towards influential artists of color, historically and within the contemporary landscape.

The Overshadowing of Black Artists

The modern era is the art movement from 1860 to the 1970s, emphasizing abstraction, May Howard Jackson is an example of an artist in the modern era who did not achieve mainstream success but depicted racial identity with sensitivity and variation in her work. Viewing and creating black figures that were dynamic and heterogeneous.

“Although May Howard Jackson is not a widely recognized artist, she is a pioneer. One of the first black women artists to practise professionally, she is connected with prominent African American figures and associated with key art institutions”.

Victoria L. Valentine

“It is one of the art market’s most uncomfortable truths that, although black and minority artists are enjoying greater representation, it remains white people who predominantly sell—and buy—their work”.

Margaret Carrigan

Although diversity is beginning to integrate into the art realm, the quote illustrates a market system of the industry whose values of ownership capitalize on the exclusion of people of color.

Increased Representation

American galleries and museums have begun to diversify their art collections to address the underrepresentation of non-white Artists. As long as black artists have the opportunity to share their art, they can depict the shared struggles and triumphs of other African Americans.

However, Black artists have been using art as an outlet and forum for empowerment since the Harlem Renaissance. Creating a legacy of work for themselves and the African-American community and fellow artists.

The Black Arts Movement was an example of black artists, musicians, and poets using art as a political outlet during the Black Power Movement. The Black Power Movement emphasized black power and integrated self-reliance and determination with human rights. The Arts Movement was a prominent example of creative works perpetrating a political message. The cultural collaboration against the white mainstream enabled artists of color to achieve artistic recognition and economic opportunities while resisting institutions that attempted to overshadow them.

Kara Walker

Kara Walker is a contemporary and prominent black artist whose work reflects a personal experience growing up in Southern America and the discrimination she faced. Walker’s work simultaneously addresses the historical and contemporary mythologies of race and racism through abstract and silhouetted depictions within contemporary art.

She has gained national and international recognition for her cut-paper silhouettes depicting historical narratives haunted by sexuality, violence, and subjugation. Her work leads viewers to a critical understanding of the past while also proposing an examination of contemporary racial and gender stereotypes.

Kara Walker

As inclusion, diversity, and equality are slowly becoming priorities in the arts and cultural industries, a new culture of participation should be extended to artists of color. Changes must be made within the management of art industries, a recent statistic showed that over 80% of American artists in New York represented are white and predominantly male. Diversity in art is essential for collectors, galleries, and artists themselves who produce new meanings and share a piece of their cultural history.

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Written By

Hello! My name is Rachel, I'm from Manchester and I'm a Journalism student at Cardiff University! I love writing anything related to popular culture and entertainment.


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