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Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power

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African American art in the era of Malcolm X and the Black Panthers

In  the period of radical change that was 1963–83, young black artists at  the beginning of their careers confronted difficult questions about art,  politics and racial identity. How to make art that would stand as  innovative, original, formally and materially complex, while also making  work that reflected their concerns and experience as black Americans?

Soul of a Nation  surveys this crucial period in American art history, bringing to light  previously neglected histories of 20th-century black artists, including  Sam Gilliam, Melvin Edwards, Jack Whitten, William T. Williams,  Howardina Pindell, Romare Bearden, David Hammons, Barkley L. Hendricks,  Senga Nengudi, Noah Purifoy, Faith Ringgold, Betye Saar, Charles White  and Frank Bowling.

The book features substantial essays from Mark  Godfrey and Zoe Whitley, writing on abstraction and figuration,  respectively. It also explores the art-historical and social contexts  with subjects ranging from black feminism, AfriCOBRA and other  artist-run groups to the role of museums in the debates of the period  and visual art’s relation to the Black Arts Movement. Over 170 artworks  by these and many other artists of the era are illustrated in full  color.

2017 marks the 50th anniversary of the first use of the  term “black power” by student activist Stokely Carmichael; it will also  be 50 years since the US Supreme Court overturned the prohibition of  interracial marriage. At this turning point in the reassessment of  African American art history, Soul of a Nation is a vital contribution to this timely subject.


  • Hardcover :  256 pages 
  • Product Dimensions :  8.5 x 1 x 10.25 inches 
  • Publisher :  D.A.P./Tate; Not Indicated Edition (September 26, 2017)