20th-Century British Artists of Color: A New History Project

This is a new initiative, led by contemporary artist Sonia Boyce, will document the careers of British modernists and post-modernists who are/were black. (“Black” here is in the political category that was vital in the 1970s and 1980s, meaning British ethno-racial minorities of African, Asian, and Caribbean heritages.)

Boyce puts the paradox up front. The project’s categorization draws boundaries around the artists as black people, a designation which some of them believe will limit or subtend assessment of their practices. However, without naming these important artists as black people, the pathways of modernism and its narratives, will appear to be entirely and homogeneously white. These accounts are simply incomplete. What’s worse they fail to tell on themselves. That is, they don’t draw attention to their own exclusionarism and elitism.

For more on the British project, see:

“Forgotten History of Black Artists to Be Uncovered in £700,000 Curation Project” (Daily Mail, London)

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Author: Jacqueline Francis

Writer, teacher, curator, and arts consultant in San Francisco, California. Follow me on Twitter @JackieFrancisSF

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