There’s been no shortage of exhibitions in New Orleans focusing on the incredible richness and diversity of art by African-American artists over the last several years.
They range from the small but choice selection of paintings inspired by New Orleans and south Louisiana culture by Jean-Michel Basquiat as part of Prospect.3 in 2014 to the national traveling retrospective of the Miami-based Rubell collection that came to the Contemporary Arts Center that same year.
But “Solidary & Solitary: The Joyner/Giuffreda Collection” is something different.
According to co-curator Christopher Bedford, “Solidary & Solitary is a historic exhibition, narrating for the first time the central role black Americans have played in the history of Modernism, and as the leading edge in social-engaged contemporary art.“
That’s a lot to encompass for an exhibition that features the work of just 14 artists, drawn from the collection of San Francisco- and New York-based collectors Pamela Joyner and Fred Giuffrida.
But there’s a remarkable depth and breadth of art here, from Norman Lewis’s lyrical abstract paintings to Mark Bradford’s paper waterfall that cascades down the Ogden’s soaring atrium space.
And relationships between different generations of African-American artists are emphasized, giving the exhibition an additional layer of historical resonance.
New Orleans audiences will be the first to see the exhibition, which is co-organized by the Ogden with the Baltimore Museum of Art and will travel to several other national venues after its appearance here.
It’s a unique chance to see a collection that co-curator Katy Siegel says “describes a past that changes the shape of univocal history, and opens onto new potential for the future of art.”
Solidary & Solitary: The Joyner/Giuffreda Collection
Through Jan. 21
The Ogden Museum of Southern Art
925 Camp St.