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Original photo by Siiri Sinko

Art by Black Artists and Creators

Black creators and artists have not only made and offered creative entertainment and moving, brilliant literature, but also amazing art that deserve broader recognition. Like your Rodins, Picassos and Warhols as well as O’Keeffes and Kahlos, it is also good to know some of the names and works of black artists to be more broadly and culturally aware of different artistic perspectives. Not only this, of course, but black art also becomes fascinating with its historical and cultural contexts, and beautiful in educating the viewer. For discovering historical, modern and contemporary works, an excellent place to start is on Google Arts & Culture that has fascinating online exhibits and educational analyses on individual works. Here are some to explore.


African American Art: Harlem Renaissance, Civil Rights Era, and Beyond

This exhibit presents artworks that date from the early 1920s through to the 2000s. With different themes like “Civil Rights and Urban America” and “Personal Expression,” it demonstrates intriguing artistry and amazing usages of colors.

A Woman’s Work

A Woman’s Work displays beautifully painted portrayals of women in different roles in which “the focus of attention” is placed on the “Black woman – as the center of family, as a sister, worker and the epitome of womanhood.” The colors and imagery become wonderfully vivid.

Black: Color, Material, Concept

This exhibition brings together modern and contemporary artists who have explored with “black” – seen as “an element of art and design,” as “a word” that “can fill columns in a dictionary,” and as a highly charged “social construction.” The artists explore the idea of “black” with different types of media; for example, one piece simply uses different punctuation with the word.

Gordon Parks: Segregation Story

Gordon Parks was a remarkable figure for he became the first African American staff photographer at Life magazine. His work, starting from the 1940s, documented American culture with the important focus on black people’s lives during the 20th century. This photo series from 1956 portrays their everyday lives, and it tried to challenge the still “incomplete or distorted view of African-American life” possessed by white people.

Another remarkable photo series is Gordon Parks X Muhammad Ali from 1966.


Here are other important, contemporary artists with one of their artworks presented:

Our Town by Kerry James Marshall (1995)

Tambourine by Lynette Yiadom-Boakye (2010)

John, 1st Baron Byron by Kehinde Wiley (2013)

A Subtlety by Kara Walker (2014)

Until by Nick Cave (2016)


Acknowledging art by black artists and creators becomes just as important in supporting black people. Art not only fascinates but also educates the viewer and should develop, at least, our sense of sympathy. 

An English major in University of Helsinki who adores culture's most valuable and beautiful subjects like literature and art.
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