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Facing History: The Black Image in American Art, 1710-1940

DATES April 20, 1990 through June 25, 1990
  • February 1, 1990 The first comprehensive exhibition to provide a careful examination of the history of the African-American image in American fine art from the founding of our country to the Harlem Renaissance will open at The Brooklyn Museum April 20, 1990. Facing History: The Black Image in American Art 1710-1940 will remain on view in the American Galleries, located on the fifth floor, through June 25.

    Four years in the making, Facing History was organized by Guy C. McElroy, Jr., for The Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. The exhibition documents the ways in which artists have created a complicated and often ambivalent visual record of African Americans that has reinforced, and sometimes opposed, a variety of stereotypes of black identity. It also demonstrates how social and cultural attitudes, as well as the historic events of the times, affected artists’ representations of black society.

    The exhibition includes more than 100 paintings, sculptures, and drawings by over 60 artists. Among the African-American artists included are Joshua Johnson, Robert S. Duncanson, Edward Mitchell Bannister, Mary Edmonia Lewis, Archibald J. Motley, Jr., and Jacob Lawrence. Paintings by John Singleton Copley, William Sidney Mount, Winslow Homer, Thomas Eakins, Eastman Johnson, Robert Henri, Charles Demuth, Reginald Marsh, and Ben Shahn are also exhibited.

    Facing History is made possible at The Brooklyn Museum with generous support from The Rockefeller Foundation; the New York Council for the Humanities, a state program of the National Endowment of the Humanities; and the New York State Council on the Arts. It received generous grants from the District of Columbia Commission of the Arts and Humanities, The Rockefeller Foundation, the Philip L. Graham Fund, The Washington Post Company, The Washington Post newspaper, and the National Endowment for the Arts.

    The exhibition was coordinated at The Brooklyn Museum by members of the Department of Painting and Sculpture. It is accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue written by Mr. McElroy and Dr. Henry Louis Gates, Jr., and published by Bedford Arts in association with The Corcoran Gallery of Art (190 pages: 97 color reproductions, 75 black-and-white illustrations; $35.00 softcover, $50.00 hardcover).

    Brooklyn Museum Archives. Records of the Department of Public Information. Press releases, 1989 - 1994. 01-03/1990, 035-36.
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  • March 1, 1990 The Brooklyn Museum is pleased to present African-American Video Visions, a six-week series of tapes surveying the work of African-American video artists from the past fifteen years beginning Sunday, April 22 at 2 p.m. (please see attached schedule). Planned to run simultaneously with the Museum exhibition Facing History: The Black Image in American Art, 1710-1940, African-American Video Visions will provide an alternative look at the representation of African-Americans in the visual arts.

    Varying in technique, including narrative, documentary, and experimental forms, the tapes are arranged in six thematic programs that address such issues in the African-American experience as identity (April 22), the civil rights movement (April 29), women in the performing arts (May 13), the relationship to Africa and the diaspora (May 20), and cultural expression (June 3). On Sunday, May 27, the Museum will offer a special program--a retrospective of the pioneering video work by artist Philip Mallory Jones with the artist present to introduce and discuss his tapes.

    Guest video artists Linda Gibson (April 22), Doug Harris (April 29), and Ayoka Chenzira (May 20) will also introduce programs that include their work and lead post-screening discussions.

    All programs will occur Sunday at 2 p.m. in the Museum’s Education Division, located on the first floor, and are free with Museum admission (suggested contribution: $3 for adults, $1.50 for students, $1 for senior citizens and free for members and children under 12 when accompanied by an adult). Program tickets will be given out on a first-come first-serve basis one-half hour before the screening.

    African-American Video Visions was organized by Dara Meyers-Kingsley, Coordinator of Film and Video Programs and was funded by the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency, the New York State Council on the Arts, and the New York State Legislature through the Natural Heritage Trust, a public benefit corporation established in 1968 by the Legislature and administered by the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation.

    Brooklyn Museum Archives. Records of the Department of Public Information. Press releases, 1989 - 1994. 01-03/1990, 048-49.
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  • April 1, 1990 All programs for this six-week series are held on Sunday at 2 p.m. in the Museum’s Education Division, located on the first floor, and are free with Museum admission. Program tickets will be given out on a first-come first-serve basis one-half hour before the screening. Programs are subject to change without notice.

    Sunday, April 22, 2 p.m.
    These three contemporary tapes explore the struggle for African-American self-definition in American society.

    guest speaker: Linda Gibson

    Flag. 1989. Linda Gibson. 24 mins.
    Free, White and 21. 1980. Howardena Pindell. 12 mins.
    Tongues Untied. 1989. Marion Riggs. 54 mins.

    Sunday, April 29, 2 p.m.
    Reflections on Civil Rights
    Video artists reflect and comment upon the civil rights movement, rewriting their history, and setting the record straight.

    guest speaker: Doug Harris

    Reflections. 1986. Kim Watson and Caleb Oglesby. 6 minutes
    We Shall not be Moved. 1989. Doug Harris. 24 minutes (work in progress)
    Why is Mississippi Burning and Who Put out the Fire?. 1989. Doug Harris. 24 minutes (work in progress)
    Black Celebration. 1988. Tony Cokes. 17 minutes

    Sunday, May 13. 2 p.m.
    Documentaries on Women in the Performing Arts
    Two documentaries on pioneering African-American women in the performing arts: the members of the inspiring and politically-oriented a capella group Sweet Honey in the Rock; and Ellen Stewart, the dynamic founder of La MaMa, an avant-garde performance space in New York.

    Gotta Make This Journey: Sweet Honey in the Rock. 1983. Michelle Parkerson. 58 mins.
    Mama’s Pushcart: Ellen Stewart and 25 Years at LaMaMa, E.T.C.. 1988. Demetria Royals. 54 mins.

    Sunday, May 20, 2 pm.
    Africa and the Diaspora
    This program of tapes explores the experience of journeying, both physically and culturally, from Africa, and the role that ancestry and tradition play in contemporary African-American art and expression.

    guest speaker: Ayoka Chenzira

    Zajota and the Boogie Spirit. 1989. Ayoka Chenzira. 18 minutes
    Voyage of Dreams. 1983. Collis Davis. 30 minutes
    The Lure and the Lore. 1989. Ayoka Chenzira. 13 minutes
    Suppositions on History. 1984. Albert Marshall. 29 minutes

    Sunday, May 27, 2 p.m.
    Philip Mallory Jones Retrospective
    A pioneering video artist, curator, and writer, Philip Mallory Jones has been producing video art for twenty years. This program will present an overview of Jones’s documentary and experimental work.

    guest speaker: Philip Mallory Jones

    Beyond the Mountain--More Mountains. 1974. 12 minutes
    The Trouble I’ve Seen. 1976. 10 minutes
    Soldiers of a Recent and Forgotten War. 1981. 28 minutes
    What Goes Around/Comes Around. 1986. 3 minutes
    Wassa. 1989. Philip Mallory Jones. 3 minutes
    Jembe. 1989. 3 minutes

    Sunday, June 3, 2 p.m.
    Cultural Expressions
    This program combines tapes that document African-American artistic expressions, such as dance, film, and the blues, with tapes that analyze how cultural expression functions in American society.

    Improvisation II. 1975. Linda Gibson. 3 minutes
    Some People. 1987. Mary Easter. 20 minutes
    Creating a Different Image: A Portrait of Alile Sharon Larkin. 1989. O. Funmilayo Makarah. 5 minutes
    Define. 1988, O. Funmilayo Makarah, 5 minutes
    Long Train Running, 1981. Marlong Riggs. 29 minutes
    Cultural Diminish. 1989. Lawrence Andrews. 23 minutes

    For more information and brochure, call: 718-638-5000, ext. 234. The Brooklyn Museum, 200 Eastern Parkway, Brooklyn, NY 11238

    Brooklyn Museum Archives. Records of the Department of Public Information. Press releases, 1989 - 1994. 04-06/1990, 081-83.
    View Original