'Black Art: In the Absence of Light, A Celebration of African American Artists' Premieres On HBO February 9

  • February 03, 2021 13:42

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Amy Sherald at work on her portrait of First Lady Michelle Obama, as featured in HBO's "Black Art: In the Absence of Light."
Courtesy HBO
"Black Art: In the Absence of Light, A Celebration of African American Artists", a documentary premiering on HBO on February 9th surveys African-American artists who have contributed to the art canon in the U.S. over two centuries. Directed by Sam Pollard, the film draws on “Two Centuries of Black American Art,” the 1976 exhibition curated by the late David Driskell. Interviews with artists include Kerry James Marshall, Faith Ringgold, Jordan Casteel, Radcliffe Bailey, Amy Sherald, Theaster Gates, Kara Walker, Carrie Mae Weems, and Kehinde Wiley. Driskell and writer and curator Maurice Berger both provided insights in the film prior to their deaths in 2020.

Consulting producer Thelma Golden said, "Today's Black artists have worked to envision their place in the art world, and in the process, their place in a historically exclusionary canon. [...] ‘Black Art: In the Absence of Light’ introduces an art history through the lens of Blackness, foregrounding the definitive importance of representation and its scholarship, and in so doing, inspiring generations to come." 

Golden’s work as director and chief curator at the Studio Museum in Harlem, and her groundbreaking exhibition “Black Male: Representations of Masculinity in Contemporary American Art” in 1994-95, are explored in the context of rising appreciation of Black artists in America.

Also highlighted are influential collectors, curators and scholars, including Mary Schmidt Campbell, Rujeko Hockley, Sarah Lewis, Richard Powell, Valerie Cassel Oliver, Swizz Beatz (Kasseem Dean), and Bernard Lumpkin, among others.

The documentary will be available for streaming on HBO and HBO Max from February 9th.

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