Among Others: Blackness at MoMA
Book and Cover
Title: Among Others: Blackness at MoMA
Author/Editor: By Darby English and Charlotte Barat
Publisher: The Museum of Modern Art
Design Firm: Sonia Sánchez, Paco Lacasta, and María Aguilera Aranaz, Madrid
Book Designer: Sonia Sánchez, Paco Lacasta and María Aguilera Aranaz, Madrid
Jacket Designer: Sonia Sánchez, Paco Lacasta and María Aguilera Aranaz, Madrid
Production Director: Marc Sapir
This landmark publication represents the first effort by The Museum of Modern Art to examine its history and collection by highlighting the role of black artists, the black community, and art about blackness over the past nine decades. Among Others features nearly 200 works in the Museum’s collection by 132 black artists from around the world, as well as a selection of works by nonblack artists dealing with race and race-related subjects. Each work is discussed in a short text, commissioned for this volume. The contributing authors include MoMA curators and an array of scholars, curators, and artists who are among the strongest voices in current research on art and cultural difference. Among Others offers a variety of generational and political perspectives and presents a broad range of artists who work in styles, themes, and mediums across the Museum’s collection.
The publication begins with two historical essays. The first, by Darby English and Charlotte Barat, traces the history of MoMA’s encounters with racial blackness since its founding—the Museum's early interest in African art and solo exhibitions devoted to the work of artists such as William Edmondson and Jacob Lawrence in the 1930s and 1940s, its activities during the Civil Rights Movement, and the controversial 1984 exhibition “Primitivism” in Twentieth Century Art and beyond. English and Barat ask how MoMA’s criterion of “quality” in judging modern art has rendered its collection open to some and closed to others, paying particular attention to the tension between modernism’s universal claims and the reality of cultural specificity. The second essay, by Mabel O. Wilson, chronicles the Museum’s omissions in the exhibiting and collecting of work by black architects and designers and suggests the ways in which such oversights were both informed by and further reinforced patterns of discrimination in the field. Both essays take an uncompromising look at a major American museum’s past at a moment when issues of racial equality and inclusiveness have gained renewed prominence in our civic discourse.
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