Following the exhibition’s premiere in 2008 at the Rubell Family Collection in Miami, “30 Americans” is now coming to Philadelphia’s Barnes Foundation. Over 80 works by 30 African American artists, including Jean-Michel Basquiat, Kehinde Wiley, Kara Walker and Kerry James Marshall, will explore the dialogues surrounding race, history and identity that shape contemporary America.
The group show has traveled the country for a decade in different iterations, transforming the way African American art has been received in mainstream museums and galleries. “‘30 Americans’ has been, without question, this century’s most impactful exhibition of work by contemporary artists of African descent,” Gwendolyn DuBois Shaw, curator of “30 Americans” at the Barnes explains. “More than simply an exhibition, it is a cultural phenomenon that has helped catapult the nascent careers of a number of the included artists, while also influencing and encouraging other artists and collectors across the country to pursue their individual visions.”
Across 16 cities, “30 Americans” continues to be rethought and reinstalled at every location it arrives at, based on the judgment of the curatorial team and spatial limitations of the institution. The same 30 artists remain the same, addressing issues of personal and cultural identity set against “a backdrop of pervasive stereotyping.” While taking on a new resonance within the context of Philadelphia, “30 Americans” is also the first time many of these works will be seen in this city, further emphasizing how black artists have historically been excluded from cultural institutions.
Take a look at select works from “30 Americans” in the gallery above. The exhibition will be on view at the Barnes Foundation from October 27, 2019, to January 12, 2020.
2025 Benjamin Franklin Pkwy
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Day 23 of our 30-day countdown featuring artists from #30Americans in their own words: Henry Taylor (@henrytaylorart) “A painting can take much longer than a photograph. It’s a commitment on both ends. And I’m doing something that I love. I’m appreciative. Afterwards, I’m able to be more intuitive or play with it if I want to create some story. But sometimes it’s just the painting experience alone that I relish. When I’m painting from life, the colors seem more alive and apparent, because it’s real—I mean, whatever real is. If I were to do something from a photograph, then I only try to depict what’s there and that seems more limited. I could work from a photograph for hours and hours, but I can work from life in minutes. A human being is never in black and white, even if I’m colorblind.” (Source: Sept 2015 Bomb Magazine conversation between Deana Lawson and Henry Taylor) Exploring complex questions of identity, equity, race, and politics, 30 Americans is a pivotal exhibition highlighting influential African American artists of the past four decades who changed the way we think about contemporary art. We’re counting down the days until exhibition opening. Follow along! Opens next Sunday, Oct. 27 ➡ barnesfoundation.org/30americans . . . #HenryTaylor. The Long Jump by Carl Lewis, 2010. Courtesy of Rubell Family Collection, Miami
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Day 18 of our 30-day countdown featuring artists from #30Americans in their own words: Rozeal⠀ ⠀ On “Sacrifice #2”: “This piece reflects a commonality of which I had been aware for some time. Along with looking at woodblock prints, I viewed photos of geisha napping…what I enjoyed about these images was how similar this method of sleeping was to the way black women can sleep after coming home from the beauty parlor. I have done so myself; having a fresh perm/relaxer in my hair, not wanting to lose its ‘bone straightness.’”⠀ ⠀ Exploring complex questions of identity, equity, race, and politics, 30 Americans is a pivotal exhibition highlighting influential African American artists of the past four decades who changed the way we think about contemporary art.⠀ ⠀ Opens Oct. 27⠀ ➡ barnesfoundation.org/30americans⠀ .⠀ .⠀ .⠀ #Rozeal. Sacrifice #2: it has to last (after Yoshitoshi’s “Drowsy: the appearance of a harlot of the Meiji era”), (detail) 2007. Courtesy of Rubell Family Collection, Miami⠀
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Day 16 of our 30-day countdown featuring artists from #30Americans in their own words: Nick Cave (@nickcaveart) On “Soundsuits”: “This sculptural form is based on the scale of my body. It creates a camouflage, masking and forming a second skin that conceals race, gender, and class, forcing one to look without judgment.” Catch a rare glimpse of “Nick Cave: Soundsuit Invasion” performance on October 25 as we celebrate the cultural phenomenon “30 Americans” at our annual #BarnesArtBall! Be among the first to see this groundbreaking exhibition in advance of its public opening (October 27). After ten years traveling the US with over one million viewers, “30 Americans” finally comes to Philadelphia, only at the Barnes. Don’t miss this pivotal show spotlighting influential African American artists of the past four decades who changed the way we think about contemporary art. Celebrate at Barnes Art Ball on October 25: barnesfoundation.org/artball . . . #NickCave. Soundsuit, 2008. Courtesy of Rubell Family Collection, Miami. © Nick Cave. Courtesy of the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York. Photo by James Prinz Photography