In the period of radical change that was 1963–83, young black artists at the beginning of their careers confronted difficult questions about art, politics and racial identity. How to make art that would stand as innovative, original, formally and materially complex, while also making work that reflected their concerns and experience as black Americans?
Soul of a Nation surveys this crucial period in American art history, bringing to light previously neglected histories of 20th-century black artists. The book features substantial essays from Mark Godfrey and Zoe Whitley, writing on abstraction and figuration, respectively. It also explores the art-historical and social contexts with subjects ranging from black feminism, AfriCOBRA and other artist-run groups to the role of museums in the debates of the period and visual art’s relation to the Black Arts Movement. Over 170 artworks are illustrated in full color.
Mark Godfrey is Senior Curator, International Art (Europe and Americas) at Tate Modern Zoe Whitley is Adjunct Research Curator, Tate Modern