We are staying at home, void of the typical physicality of contemporary art in public spaces, so we’re excited to offer you a comprehensive, isolation-friendly experience of the internationally acclaimed exhibition, “Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power 1963-1983”. The show took place exactly one year ago and debuted on the West Coast at The Broad before traveling to LA. Be sure to play the accompanying audio (link following) while exploring the artworks!
“Soul of a Nation” celebrated the work of more than 60 influential artists made over two revolutionary decades in American history, beginning in 1963 at the height of the civil rights movement. The show explored how social justice movements, as well as stylistic evolutions in visual art (such as minimalism and abstraction), were powerfully expressed in the work of artists including Romare Bearden, Barkley Hendricks, Noah Purifoy, Martin Puryear, Faith Ringgold, Betye Saar, Alma Thomas, Charles White and William T. Williams. Los Angeles-based artists appeared throughout “Soul of a Nation”, and more deeply in three specific galleries, to foreground the significant role of Los Angeles in the art and history of the civil rights movement and the subsequent activist era, and the critical influence and sustained originality of the city’s artists, many of whom have lacked wider recognition.
The selected works included vibrant paintings, powerful sculptures, street photography, murals and more. It was a landmark exhibition and a rare opportunity to see era-defining artworks that changed the face of art in America.
The exhibition was organized by Tate Modern in collaboration with The Broad, Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art and Brooklyn Museum and the de Young museum. Aligned with this, The Broad was the only United States exhibition venue to show two important works from Tate Modern’s originating presentation, “Icon for My Man Superman (Superman Never Saved Any Black People – Bobby Seale)”, 1969 by Hendricks and “Watts Riot”, 1966 by Purifoy. “Watts Riot” was on loan to The Broad from the California African American Museum in Los Angeles, the largest institutional lender to The Broad’s presentation with seven loans. In addition, The Broad was also the only United States venue to show works by David Hammons and Saar that were seen for the first time since the exhibition originated at Tate Modern, including Hammons’ “Injustice Case”, 1971 and Saar’s “I’ve Got Rhythm”, 1972. “Injustice Case”, 1971 was on loan from LACMA, where it was on view as part of the “Three Graphic Artists” exhibition and was a central image in the 1971 exhibition’s brochure.
In honour of the exhibition, legendary producer, musician and composer Quincy Jones curated an exclusive playlist on Apple Music – take a listen here!
Encompassing music, dance and live discussion, The Broad also presented programs to provide a richer understanding of the artists and era seen in “Soul of a Nation”. This included a 1 day symposium, “Art and Politics: Soul of a Nation Symposium”, including panels such as “The Politics of Black Exhibitions”.
Play that Quincy playlist, dive into the following images, and you can additionally view the recent Shirin Neshat exhibition at The Broad, in this IC Online Exhibition.