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Black Refractions: Highlights from the Studio Museum in Harlem

Comprised of over one hundred works across all media dating from the 1920s to the present, Black Refractions surveys creative achievements by artists of African descent.

Exhibition Images

  • Barkley L. Hendricks, Lawdy Mama, 1969. Oil and gold leaf on canvas, 53 ¾ x 36 ¼ in., The Studio Museum in Harlem. © Estate of Barkley L. Hendricks. Courtesy of the artists’s estate and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York

  • Wangechi Mutu, Hide n Seek, Kill or Speak, 2004. Paint, ink, collage, mixed media on Mylar, 48 x 42 in., The Studio Museum in Harlem; Museum Purchase made possible by a gift from Jeanne Greenberg Rohatyn. Courtesy of the artist

  • Faith Ringgold, Echoes of Harlem, 1980. Hand-painted cotton, 80 ½ x 89 ½ in., The Studio Museum in Harlem; Gift of Altria Group, Inc. © 1980 Faith Ringgold

  • Dawoud Bey, A Boy in Front of the Loews 125th Street Movie Theater, from the Harlem, U.S.A., series, 1976. Gelatin silver print, 8 ½ x 5 3/16 in., The Studio Museum in Harlem; Gift of the Artist. Courtesy of the Artist

  • Norman Lewis, Bonfire, 1962. Oil on canvas, 64 x 49 7/8 in., The Studio Museum in Harlem; Gift of the Estate of Norman Lewis. © Estate of Norman W. Lewis; Courtesy of Michael Rosenfeld Gallery, LLC, New York, NY

About the Exhibition

Black Refractions: Highlights from The Studio Museum in Harlem, a collaboration between the American Federation of Arts (AFA) and the Studio Museum in Harlem. Nearly eighty artists in over one hundred works across all media and dating from the 1920s to the present are featured. The exhibition surveys close to a century of creative achievements by artists of African descent and is the first traveling exhibition in twenty-five years to reveal the breadth and expansive growth of the Studio Museum’s permanent collection.

This landmark enterprise explores the vital contributions of artists of African descent, proposing a plurality of narratives of black artistic production and multiple approaches to understanding these works. Such an ambitious, multifaceted project is uniquely possible through the use of the Studio Museum’s collection. Through its pioneering exhibitions, public programs, artist residencies, and bold acquisitions, The Studio Museum in Harlem has served as a nexus for artists of African descent locally, nationally, and internationally since its founding in 1968.

Through its groundbreaking Artist-in-Residence program, the Studio Museum has supported many distinguished artists at decisive stages in their careers. The exhibition includes artworks by renowned alumni of the residency program such as Njideka Akunyili Crosby, Chakaia Booker, David Hammons, Kerry James Marshall, Mickalene Thomas, and Kehinde Wiley. Black Refractions also presents iconic works by artists Elizabeth Catlett, Beauford Delaney, Barkley Hendricks, Jacob Lawrence, Hughie Lee-Smith, Alma Thomas, Bob Thompson, and James VanDerZee, among others.

Tour Schedule