African Modernism in America

Editor: Perrin M. Lathrop
Publishers: Published by the American Federation of Arts & distributed by Yale University Press
Dimensions: 9×10 1/2 inches
Format: Hardcover, 224 pages
ISBN: 978‑1‑885444‑11‑0


Price: $50


African Modernism in America examines the complex connections between modern African artists and American patrons, artists, and cultural organizations amid the interlocking histories of civil rights, decolonization, and the Cold War.Between 1947 and 1967, institutions such as the Harmon Foundation; the Museum of Modern Art, New York; and historically Black colleges and universities collected and exhibited works by many of the most important African artists of the mid-twentieth century, including Ben Enwonwu (Nigeria), Gerard Sekoto (South Africa), Ibrahim El-Salahi (Sudan), and Skunder Boghossian (Ethiopia). The inventive and irrefutably contemporary nature of these artists’ paintings, sculptures, and works on paper defied typical Western narratives that relegated African art to a “primitive” past, and their presentation in theUnited States rooted the vital work firmly in the present for American audiences.

This landmark publication features artworks by fifty artists that exemplify the relationships between the new art that emerged in Africa during the 1950s and 1960s and American aesthetic and cultural politics. This rich selection is drawn primarily from Fisk University Galleries’ remarkable collection of gifts from the Harmon Foundation. Through essays and in-depth biographies by leading scholars, the publication reveals a transcontinental network of artists, curators, and scholars that challenged assumptions about African art in the United States and thereby encouraged American engagement with African artists as contemporaries.

About the Editor

Perrin M. Lathrop is Assistant Curator of African Art at the Princeton University Art Museum.


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