This Fall, Multiple Exhibitions Dedicated to ‘Soul of a Nation’ Artists are on View Throughout New York City

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TEN DAYS AGO, “Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power” opened at the Brooklyn Museum. The groundbreaking traveling show “shines light on a broad spectrum of Black artistic practice from 1963 to 1983, one of the most politically, socially, and aesthetically revolutionary periods in American history.” This fall, two more New York museums are presenting major exhibitions dedicated to African American artists—both are solo shows.

In Manhattan, “Charles White: A Retrospective” will be on view at the Museum of Modern Art beginning Oct. 7, and at The Met Breuer, “Odyssey: Jack Whitten Sculpture 1963-2017” opened earlier this month. Charles White and Jack Whitten are among the artists represented in “Soul of the Nation.” Additional artists with works featured in the monumental exhibition are the focus of solo shows at galleries throughout the city.

Frank Bowling and Lorraine O’Grady are showing at Alexander Gray Associates. Ed Clark is at Mnuchin. Works by Noah Purifoy are on view at Tilton Gallery, which is also presenting a parallel show “East Coast/West Coast” with works by Clark, David Hammons, John Outterbridge, Betye Saar and Timothy Washington. Meanwhile, a group presentation at Michael Rosenfeld Gallery, “Truth & Beauty: Charles White and His Circle,” centers around White and also includes works by Hammons, Saar, and Outterbridge, among many others.

“Soul of the Nation” features some of the most thought-provoking and consequential artists making work, decades ago, in response to the Civil Rights, Black Power, and Black Feminism movements. (A good number are still working today.) The smaller, complementary shows foreground individual artists and offer an opportunity to see a wider selection of their works, gain a deeper understanding of their practices, and consider the arc of their careers.

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