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

This beautiful book is the companion to the Tate Modern, London, exhibition of the same name. Full-color illustrations reproduce more than 170 works by 60 black American artists who worked between 1963 and 1983, during the civil rights movement and the political and cultural activism that followed it. Despite the quality and range of their works and ideas, they were neglected by the white art establishment of the time and are given a fresh look here. "There is no America without African Americans. The story of art in America is incomplete without acknowledging Black American artists."

Soul of a Nation creates a gorgeous portrait of this vibrant artistic period. The authors have organized it not by chronology or historical events, but by the "different aesthetic strategies and debates circling around what it meant to be a Black artist at this time." This is an effective strategy that highlights the wealth of approaches and styles represented in what seems like every possible artistic medium, including painting, sculpture, printmaking, photography, fiber arts, film and performance. Individuals, collectives and regions are introduced, each of which could inspire new dedicated exhibitions. Essays by co-curators Zoé Whitley and Mark Godfrey (Abstraction and the Holocaust), as well as remembrances of the period by black artists, curators and critics, give context to the featured work. This is an art book that could adorn a coffee table, but will also serve as a valuable reference for years to come. --Sara Catterall

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