Comedian Bill Cosby and his wife, Camille, will showcase their collection of African American art for the first time publicly at the Smithsonian this fall. Amassed over four decades, 62 works from the Cosby collection of 300 paintings, prints, sculptures and drawings will be on loan to the National Museum of African Art for an exhibition that juxtaposes African art and African American art.
Works by renowned African-American artists such as Beauford Delaney, Faith Ringgold, Jacob Lawrence, Augusta Savage and Henry Ossawa Tanner from the Cosby collection will go on view in November. These and other works of African American art will be placed in thematic dialogue with African traditional works of art, including a Kongo female figure with child from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, a lidded bowl from Nigeria by the Yoruba master artist Olowe of Ise and a Nuna butterfly mask from Burkina Faso, and with modern and contemporary works of art by artists, including Fodé Camara from Senegal, Godfried Donkor from Ghana and William Kentridge from South Africa.
"It's so important to show art by African-American artists in this exhibition," Bill Cosby said in a statement. "To me, it's a way for people to see what exists and to give voice to many of these artists who were silenced for so long, some of whom will speak no more."
“Our mission can be summarized by Elizabeth Catlett, ‘Art must answer a question, or wake somebody up, or give a shove in the right direction,’” said Camille Cosby.