Black Is Beautiful: The Photography of Kwame Brathwaite
Blanton Museum of Art, Austin, United States 27 Jun 2021 - 19 Sep 2021
Kwame Brathwaite, Sikolo Brathwaite wearing a headpiece designed by Carolee Prince, African Jazz-Art Society & Studios (AJASS), Harlem, ca. 1968; from Kwame Brathwaite: Black Is Beautiful (Aperture, 2019)
In the late 1950s and throughout the 1960s, Kwame Brathwaite (born Brooklyn, New York, 1938) used photography to popularize the political slogan “Black Is Beautiful.” This exhibition—the first ever dedicated to Brathwaite’s remarkable career—tells the story of a key figure of the second Harlem Renaissance.
Inspired by the writings of activist and Black nationalist Marcus Garvey, Brathwaite, along with his older brother, Elombe Brath, founded the African Jazz Arts Society and Studios (AJASS) and the Grandassa Models. AJASS was a collective of artists, playwrights, designers, and dancers. Grandassa Models—the subject of much of this show’s contents—was a modeling agency for Black women, founded to challenge white beauty standards. From stunning studio portraits to behind-the-scenes images of Harlem’s artistic community, including Max Roach and Abbey Lincoln, this show offers a long-overdue exploration of Brathwaite’s life and work.
Educational Resource available! This resource is intended to inform educators about the exhibition Black Is Beautiful: The Photography of Kwame Brathwaite, so they are better able to lead students of all ages in meaningful discussions surrounding its content.
The accompanying publication for this exhibition is available for purchase via Aperture here.