Distinguished author and art historian Richard J. Powell sits down with associate professor of history of art and architecture and African and African American studies at Harvard University, Sarah Elizabeth Lewis, to explore how creative elements of Black culture have developed and transformed across decades and diverse communities. Coming October 5, the third edition of Powell’s book Black Art: A Cultural History charts a wide array of artistic achievements—from blues and reggae to the paintings of Henry Ossawa Tanner and the video creations of contemporary hip-hop artists—and the contexts in which they emerged.

Starting with a broad critical overview of the history of art of the African diaspora, the third edition helps readers better understand how the first two decades of the 21st century have been a transformative moment in which previous assumptions about race, difference, and identity have been irrevocably altered, with art and visual culture providing a useful lens through which to think about these compelling issues. The new edition was completed in June 2020, in the midst of major social upheavals and radical change, including the widespread purging of racist and imperialist symbols from the public sphere and unprecedented decisions around problematic branding, such as Quaker Oats Company removing Aunt Jemima from its products.

Black Art: A Cultural History will be available for purchase from the Hirshhorn Museum Shop with signed copies available while supplies last.

This program is presented in partnership with Thames & Hudson.

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