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.
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