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Benny Andrews: Witness

Benny Andrews (1930–2006). Witness (detail), 1968. Oil on canvas with painted fabric collage, 48 × 48 in. (121.9 × 121.9 cm). Art © Estate of Benny Andrews / Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY. Photo: Matthew Newton, courtesy of Michael Rosenfeld Gallery LLC, New York, NY

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Witness: Art and Civil Rights in the Sixties

Witness: Art and Civil Rights in the Sixties offers a focused look at painting, sculpture, graphics, and photography from a decade defined by social protest and American race relations. In observance of the fiftieth anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, this exhibition considers how sixty-six of the decade’s artists, including African Americans and some of their white, Latino, Asian American, Native American, and Caribbean contemporaries, used wide-ranging aesthetic approaches to address the struggle for racial justice.

The 1960s was a period of dramatic social and cultural upheaval, when artists aligned themselves with the massive campaign to end discrimination and bridged racial borders through creative work and acts of protest. Bringing activism to bear in their practice of gestural and geometric abstraction, assemblage, Minimalism, Pop imagery, and photography, these artists produced powerful works informed by the experience of inequality, conflict, and empowerment. In the process, they tested the political viability of their art, and originated subjects that spoke to resistance, self-definition, and blackness.

Witness: Art and Civil Rights in the Sixties is co-curated by Teresa A. Carbone, Andrew W. Mellon Curator of American Art, Brooklyn Museum, and Kellie Jones, Associate Professor, Department of Art History and Archaeology, Columbia University. A fully illustrated catalogue accompanies the exhibition.

The exhibition is made possible through a generous grant from the Ford Foundation.


Tour Schedule with Dates

Blanton Museum of Art, University of Texas at Austin

February 15–May 10, 2015

Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire

August 30–December 14, 2014

Brooklyn Museum, New York

March 7–July 6, 2014