Self-Portrait, by Samuel Joseph Brown Jr., a painting of a Black man looking at a portrait of himself.

A Right to Paint Us Whole

W.E.B. Du Bois’ message to African American artists.
Willie Mae Thornton

'Why Willie Mae Thornton Matters' Explores the Legacy of the Black Musician Who Made 'Hound Dog' a Hit

Willie Mae “Big Mama” Thornton lived an unapologetic life that transcended genres and gender norms beyond her bluesy hit song and the “Elvis moment.”
A techno DJ.

The Battle Over Techno’s Origins

A museum dedicated to techno music has opened in Frankfurt, Germany, and many genre pioneers feel that Black and queer artists in Detroit have been overlooked.
Comic strip: Bungleton Green and the Mystic Commandos: "Jon Smythe has escaped being lynched by Green Men but is captured by the "Dark Mystery!".

Jay Jackson’s Audacious Comics

Written during World War II, Bungleton Green and the Mystic Commandos imagined a future liberated from racism and inequality.
Black writers Askia Toure, Lorenzo Thomas, and Ismael Reed seated at an Umbra meeting.

A New Flame for Black Fire

What will be the legacy of the Black Arts Movement? Ishmael Reed reflects on the transformation and growth of Black arts since the 1960s.
Street Painter among paintings in Rome, Italy

W.E.B. Du Bois and the Aesthetics of Emancipation

“I am one who tells the truth and exposes evil and seeks with Beauty and for Beauty to set the world right,” W.E.B. Du Bois said in his June 1926 lecture.
Marian Anderson studying a musical score with the pianist Kurt Johnen, Berlin, 1931

Black Voices, German Song

What did German listeners hear when African American singers performed Schubert or Brahms?
Clockwise from left: William Dawson, Marian Anderson, William Grant Still, Florence Price. Background features the score of Price’s Violin Concerto No. 2.

Classical Music and the Color Line

Despite its universalist claims, the field is reckoning with a long legacy of racial exclusion.
Last ride: A statue of Confederate General Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson is trucked away from Charlottesville, Virginia, in July — and bound for a museum exhibition in Los Angeles in 2022.

The Hot Market for Toppled Confederate Statues

Artists, museums and other groups are vying to claim fallen monuments from the Jim Crow era — but for very different reasons.
A sculpture of two sitting women, likely Biblical figures.

A ‘Holy Grail’ of American Folk Art, Hiding in Plain Sight

A collector’s keen eye — and willingness to knock on a stranger’s door — led to the rediscovery of a sculpture by a renowned stone carver, William Edmondson.
Pages from the Chicago Defender and Metropolitan News, twentieth century.

The World According to Sylvester Russell

The career and legacy of a Black critic who argued for the elevation of Black performance.
Chester Higgins photo of man looking out the window of a cafe on to the early morning street

Chester Higgins’s Life in Pictures

All along the way, his eye is trained on moments of calm, locating an inherent grace, style, and sublime beauty in the Black everyday.
David Drake's pottery piece

The Enslaved Artist Whose Pottery Was an Act of Resistance

Poetic jars by David Drake are setting records at auction and starring in art museums, showcasing the artistry of enslaved African Americans.
Elizabeth Catlett’s memorial for Ellison, unveiled in New York City’s Riverside Park in 2003.

Nearly 70 Years Later, ‘Invisible Man’ Is Still Inspiring Visual Artists

Ralph Ellison’s classic 1952 novel has influenced not just writers but photographers, sculptors and painters, all grappling with what it means to be seen.
George Washington Carver painted in the role of George Washington crossing the Delaware, surrounded by racist caricaturess of African Americans

Robert Colescott Asks Us to Reimagine Icons of American History

Colescott satirizes an iconic painting of George Washington, and in doing so, challenges the viewer to reconsider their beliefs about American history.
William Edmondson.

The Picassos of the American South

William Edmondson and other self-taught artists remind us of how genius somehow finds a way.
Savage with her sculpture “Realization” in 1938.

The Black Woman Artist Who Crafted a Life She Was Told She Couldn’t Have

At the dawn of the Harlem Renaissance, Augusta Savage fought racism to earn acclaim as a sculptor. But the path she forged is also her legacy.
Lawd, Mah Man's Leavin' by Archibald Motley Jr.

How Should We Understand the Shocking Use of Stereotypes in the Work of Black Artists?

It's about the satirical tradition of 'going there.'
Rashid Johnson in front of a work of art.

Once Overlooked, Black Abstract Painters Are Finally Given Their Due

In the 1960s, abstract painting was a controversial style for Black artists, overshadowed by social realist works.
Jacob Lawrence.

Jacob Lawrence Went Beyond the Constraints of a Segregated Art World

Jacob Lawrence was one of twentieth-century America’s most celebrated black artists.