BLACK ARTISTS WON NUMEROUS AWARDS, joined major art galleries, and published lavishly illustrated books about their work in 2020. Early in the year, Christine Turner’s documentary “Betye Saar: Taking Care of Business” screened at Sundance, an expansive survey of Los Angeles painter Noah Davis opened at David Zwirner gallery, and “Working Together: Louis Draper and the Kamoinge Workshop” at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts offered a comprehensive look back at the first 20 years of the New York collective of Black photographers.
Then COVID-19 hit and racial justice protests swept across the nation in the wake of the police murder of George Floyd, and countless other Black people. The global pandemic, racial reckoning, and contentious Presidential election defined 2020.
Against this backdrop, museums and galleries temporarily shutdown and artists and cultural workers faced reduced incomes, while arts nonprofits contended with budget shortfalls. In response, foundations launched new grant programs to support artists and organizations in need. Art fairs migrated online and institutions enhanced their websites with digital programming, images and videos documenting exhibitions, and Zoom calls facilitating panel discussions and talks with artists and curators.
Meanwhile, at one museum after another, staff and former staff accused leadership of fostering cultures of racism and white supremacy. It was an emotionally draining and incredibly illuminating year with artists often expressing themselves by responding to the climate and sharing their own experiences in quarantine.
Despite the challenges, the art world continued to churn and African American artists pressed on. Painter Titus Kaphar joined Gagosian gallery. Brooklyn-based sculptor Simone Leigh was selected to represent the United States at the 57th Venice Biennale in 2022. Photographer Deana Lawson won the Hugo Boss Award. Los Angeles-based, multidisciplinary artist Cauleen Smith received the Wein Artist Prize from the Studio Museum in Harlem. Sculptures by Wangechi Mutu were acquired by the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth in Texas.
The following review presents highlights of the Year in Black Art—key news, exhibitions, awards, appointments, and more:
NOAH DAVIS | Major exhibition of late Los Angeles artist Noah Davis (1983-2015) opens Jan. 16 at David Zwirner Gallery in New York. Helen Molesworth organizes, saying “his paintings are both figurative and abstract, realistic and dreamlike; they are about blackness and the history of Western painting.” Show features more than 20 paintings by Davis, explores his ambitious institutional project (The Underground Museum), and showcases film installation by his brother Kahlil Joseph (“BLKNWS”), sculpture by his wife Karon Davis, and furniture by his mother Faith Childs-Davis. Fully illustrated catalog is published to accompany exhibition. | Top, Installation view, “Noah Davis,” David Zwirner, New York, 2020; Above, “Untitled,” 2015 (oil on canvas, 32 x 50 inches). Both Courtesy The Estate of Noah Davis and David Zwirner
MAGAZINES > | January 2020: Faith Ringgold‘s “American People #20: Die” (1967) painting covers January issue of Artforum.
APPOINTMENTS | Jan. 14: Bennie F. Johnson named executive director of AIGA, the New York City-based professional association for design.
AWARDS & HONORS | Jan. 15: Vancouver-based Stan Douglas, who works in film, photography, and theater production, selected to represent Canada at 59th Venice Biennale. (In May, the international exhibition is postponed from 2021 to 2022, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.)
ACQUISITIONS | Jan. 15: Forthcoming Lucas Museum of Narrative Art in Los Angeles acquires A Separate Cinema Archive, a massive collection assembled by John Duke Kisch over four decades. Archive of more than 37,000 items documents more than century of African American film, from 1904 to 2019, providing “comprehensive and sweeping view of history of black cinematic production.”
APPOINTMENTS | Jan. 17: Chisenhale Gallery in London announces Zoé Whitley will serve as next director.
AWARDS & HONORS | Jan. 20: Theaster Gates receives 2020 Crystal Award, celebrating exceptional contributions artists make to society, at World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.
< EXHIBITIONS | Jan. 20: “Tschabalala Self: Out of Body” opens at Institute of Contemporary Art Boston. Presentation is Tschabalala Self‘s largest exhibition to date and first show in Boston. She is recognized for “large-scale figurative paintings that integrate hand-printed and found textiles, drawing, printmaking, sewing, and collage techniques to tell stories of urban life, the body, and humanity.” | TSCHABALALA SELF, “Out of Body,” 2015 (oil and fabric collage on canvas, 72 x 60 inches). © Tschabalala Self. Acquavella Galleries, Photo by Charles Mayer
APPOINTMENTS | Jan. 22 | Author, scholar, and visual artist Nell Painter appointed chair of MacDowell Colony Board of Directors in Peterborough, N.H.
AWARDS & HONORS | Jan. 22: United States Artists announces 2020 USA Fellows, each receiving $50,000 unrestricted grants. Visual arts recipients are Melvin Edwards, Matthew Angelo Harrison, Howardena Pindell, Cameron Rowland, Martine Syms, and Nari Ward.
TELEVISION | Jan. 23: Kehinde Wiley appears on Daily Show with Trevor Noah, discusses monumental “Rumors of War” sculpture and portrait of President Barack Obama.
AWARDS & HONORS | Jan. 22: Arkansas artist Kevin Cole receives Larry D. and Brenda A. Thompson Award from Georgia Museum of Art at University of Georgia. Honor includes exhibition, “Kevin Cole: Soul Ties,” opening Jan. 25.
EXHIBITIONS | Jan. 24: “Living Color: The Art of the Highwaymen” opens at Orlando Museum of Art, focusing on Florida Highwaymen, Black landscape artists active in Fort Pierce area beginning in 1950s.
FILMS | Jan. 28: Directed by Christine Turner and produced by Los Angeles County Museum of Art, New York Times Op-Docs short documentary “Betye Saar: Taking Care of Business” premieres online. Screened at Sundance 2020, film explores practice of Los Angeles-based assemblage artist Betye Saar.
AUCTIONS | Jan. 30: Swann Auction Galleries in New York auctions art collection of Johnson Publishing Company—87 works by African American artists once displayed in Chicago offices of publisher of Ebony and Jet magazines.
APPOINTMENTS | Jan. 30: Davida Lindsay-Bell joins San Francisco Museum of Modern Art as chief human resources officer.
NEWS | Jan. 31: Hale Woodruff‘s Amistad murals unveiled at new Talladega College museum in Alabama. Talladega commissioned Woodruff to paint murals in 1938. In 2011, historic murals were removed, conserved and traveled to several museums on a multi-city tour.
TYLER MITCHELL | “I Can Make You Feel Good,” fast-rising photographer and filmmaker Tyler Mitchell’s first U.S. solo exhibition opens Jan. 25 at International Center of Photography (ICP) in New York City. Planned for four months, closes early due to pandemic. ICP reschedules for additional fall/winter run (Oct. 1, 2020-Jan. 3, 2021). Accompanying catalog released in August. In May, Mitchell who came to prominence as first Black photographer to shoot cover of American Vogue (Beyoncé for September 2018 issue), joins United Talent Agency (for potential film and TV projects) and Jack Shainman Gallery announces representation Sept. 29. | TYLER MITCHELL, “Boys of Walthamstow,” 2018, © Tyler Mitchell, Courtesy the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery
< EXHIBITION | Feb. 1: “Working Together: Louis Draper and the Kamoinge Workshop” opens at Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in Richmond, chronicles first 20 years of Kamoinge Workshop, New York collective of Black photographers founded in 1963. | ANTHONY BARBOZA (b. 1944), “Kamoinge Members,” 1973 (Gelatin silver print: sheet, 13 15/16 × 11 1/16 inches). Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, 2020.55. © Anthony Barboza
BOOKS | Feb. 1: Asmaa Walton begins Black Art Library on Instagram as Black History Month Project, initially posting images of exhibition catalogs and monographs dedicated to art produced by Black artists. She solicits book donations, begins hosting pop-up displays of collection, and eventually pursues grander vision with plans for brick-and-mortar space to house library in Detroit. Read More
AWARDS & HONORS | Feb. 4: College Art Association announces 2020 Awards for Distinction, with Denise Murrell receiving Alfred H. Barr Jr. Award for Smaller Museums, Libraries, Collections, and Exhibitions for her catalog “Posing Modernity: The Black Model From Manet and Matisse to Today,” and Frank Jewett Mather Award for Art Criticism going to Darby English for “To Describe a Life: Notes From the Intersection of Art and Race Terror.”
FILM | Feb. 6: “Hollywood’s Architect: The Paul R. Williams Story,” documentary by Royal Kennedy Rodgers about pioneering Los Angeles architect Paul R. William, begins airing on PBS stations across United States. Watch Trailer/Full Film
AWARDS & HONORS | Feb. 6: LaToya Ruby Frazier named inaugural recipient of the Gordon Parks Foundation/Steidl Book Prize.
EXHIBITIONS | Feb. 6: “Mary Lovelace O’Neal: Chasing Down the Image” opens at Mnuchin Gallery. Surveying five decades, from 1960s to 2000s, exhibition is Mary Lovelace O’Neal‘s first solo presentation in New York City in 25 years.
EXHIBITIONS > | Feb. 7: “Beauford Delaney and James Baldwin: Through the Unusual Door,” major exhibition of Beauford Delaney (1901-1979), opens in artist’s hometown at Knoxville Museum of Art in Tennessee. | BEAUFORD DELANEY, “Dark Rapture (James Baldwin),” 1941 (oil on Masonite, 34 x 28 inches). | © Estate of Beauford Delaney, Knoxville, by permission of Derek L. Spratley, Esquire, Court Appointed Administrator; Collection of halley k harrisburg and Michael Rosenfeld, New York. Courtesy of Michael Rosenfeld Gallery LLC, New York
AWARDS & HONORS | Feb. 10: American Craft Council (ACC) awards 2020 Gold Medal for Consummate Craftsmanship to Baltimore bead artist Joyce J. Scott. ACC Awards given biannually since 1970.
ACQUISITIONS | Feb. 11: From Gordon Parks Foundation, Museum of Modern Art acquires 56 photographs, series on U.S. crime Gordon Parks shot for Life magazine in 1957.
AWARDS & HONORS | Feb. 11: Jamal D. Cyrus wins 2020 David C. Driskell Prize, including $25,000 cash award.
AUCTIONS | Feb. 12: “Mom” (2013) by Jordan Casteel, portrait of artist’s mother, sells for 515,250 British Pounds ($666,734) at Christie’s London, setting new auction record for Harlem-based Casteel.
AWARDS & HONORS | Feb. 12: British artist Sonia Boyce chosen to stage solo show in British Pavilion at 58th Venice Biennale in 2022 (postponed from 2021 due to the pandemic). She is first Black woman to represent UK at international exhibition.
EXHIBITIONS | Feb. 13: Based on new scholarship, “Boston’s Apollo” opens at Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, exploring relationship between John Singer Sargent and Thomas McKeller, young Black elevator attendant at Boston’s Hotel Vendome who was model for artist’s gods and goddesses mural commissioned by Museum of Fine Arts Boston in 1916. Read More
LIVES | Feb. 14: James V. Hatch dies. He was 91. Author, playwright, and theater historian was married to artist and filmmaker Camille Billops (1933-2019). Camille Billops and James V. Hatch Archives, containing thousands of items related to African American visual and performing arts dating back to 1968, were donated to Emory University in Atlanta in 2002.
EXHIBITIONS | Feb. 15: “Dawoud Bey: An American Project,” full-scale retrospective of Chicago-based photographer Dawoud Bey, opens at San Francisco Museum of Modern Art in San Francisco.
EXHIBITIONS | Feb. 20 | “Awakened in You: The Collection of Dr. Constance E. Clayton” opens at Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, featuring more than 70 works by African American artists gifted to PAFA by local collector Constance Clayton, first woman and first African American superintendent of Philadelphia’s public schools.
< EXHIBITIONS | Feb. 19: “Jordan Casteel: Within Reach,” first solo museum exhibition in New York of portrait painter Jordan Casteel opens at New Museum. Watch Virtual Tour | JORDAN CASTEEL, “Serwaa and Amoakohene,” 2019 (oil on canvas, 90 x 78). © Jordan Casteel, Courtesy the artist and Casey Kaplan Gallery
ACQUISITIONS | Feb. 19: Library of Congress acquires more than 100,000 images from Harlem photographer Shawn Walker, collection of photographs, negatives, and transparencies, his entire archive and substantial holdings representing Kamoinge Workshop.
AWARDS & HONORS | Feb. 22: Artist Rashid Johnson wins NAACP Image Award for “Native Son” in the Outstanding Directing in a Motion Picture (Television) category.
EXHIBITIONS | Feb. 29: “Riffs and Relations: African American Artists and the European Modernist Tradition” opens at Phillips Collection. Guest curated by Adrienne L. Childs, she is first Black curator to organize an exhibition at Washington, D.C., museum.
BISA BUTLER | First solo museum exhibition of Bisa Butler opens at Katonah Museum of Art in Katonah, N.Y. (March 15) and travels to Art Institute of Chicago (Nov. 16), with fully illustrated catalog published to accompany “Bisa Butler: Portraits.” During year, New Jersey artist’s vivid, quilted portraits appear on magazine covers and are acquired by major museums, including Art Institute of Chicago and Newark Museum of Art. | BISA BUTLER, “The Safety Patrol,” 2018. The Art Institute of Chicago, Cavigga Family Trust Fund, © Bisa Butler
EXHIBITIONS | March 2: Prospect New Orleans announces artist list for Prospect 5, including Mark Bradford, Willie Birch, Simone Leigh, Dawoud Bey, Glenn Ligon, Karon Davis, Naudline Pierre, and Kevin Beasley.
ART FAIRS | March 6: Los Angeles artist June Edmonds wins inaugural AWARE Prize at Armory Show in New York, for solo presentation with Luis De Jesus Los Angeles. $10,000 juried prize awarded by Archives of Women Artists, Research and Exhibitions, Paris-based nonprofit with mission “to reposition women artists in the canon of 20th century art history.”
APPOINTMENTS | March 10: Mississippi Museum of Art in Jackson, Miss., names Ryan N. Dennis chief curator and artistic director. She joins museum from Project Row Houses in Houston, where she had been curator and programs director since 2017.
AUCTIONS | March 10: Bonhams in Los Angeles auctions estate of pioneering and glamorous actress Diahann Carroll (1935-2019), including head sculpture by Artis Lane.
EXHIBITIONS | March 13: “Terry Adkins: Resounding” opens at Pulitzer Arts Foundation in St. Louis, Mo., coinciding with exhibitions dedicated to Terry Adkins (1953-2014) at Frist Art Museum and Carl Van Vechten Art Gallery at Fisk University, both in Nashville, Tenn.
AWARDS & HONORS | March 20: Los Angeles artist and filmmaker Kahlil Joseph wins 2020 Eye Art & Film Prize. Award from Eye Filmmuseum in Amsterdam and Paddy & Joan Leigh Fermor Arts Fund supports “new developments at interface between visual art and film” and includes £25,000.
LIVES | March 23: Maurice Berger (1956-2020), curator and art historian who wrote about race and whiteness a generation before it was on trend in mainstream art world, dies at home in Craryville, N.Y. (“Exhibiting severe symptoms” of COVID-19, he was never tested for virus.) He was 63.
APPOINTMENT | March 30: Isimeme (Meme) Omogbai appointed executive director and CEO of College Art Association (CAA) in New York.
TITUS KAPHAR | Gagosian gallery announces representation of Titus Kaphar in April, with arrangement including support for NXTHVN. New Haven, Conn., contemporary art space co-founded by artist, provides mentorship and professional development for emerging artists and aspiring curators through fellowship and mentorship programs. “From a Tropical Space,” Kaphar’s first exhibition with Gagosian opens in New York Oct. 1, coinciding with “The Evidence of Things Unseen,” Maruani Mercier gallery show presented in deconsecrated church in Brussels. | Titus Kaphar, Studio in New Haven, Conn., Feb. 4, 2020. Photo by John Lucas, Courtesy Gagosian
< LIVES | April 1: An institution unto himself, illustrious artist and scholar David C. Driskell (1931-2020) dies, due to complications from coronavirus (COVID-19), in Washington, D.C. He was 88. Artists, curators, scholars says he “was an agitator for African American art” and “lit the way in our lives and careers.” | At Left, David Driskell at his studio, 2010. Courtesy Portland Museum of Art, Maine. Photo by “David Driskell at his studio, 2010. Courtesy Portland Museum of Art, Maine. Photograph by Jack Montgomery.”
AWARDS & HONORS | April 9: 2020 Guggenheim Fellowships announced with fine arts recipients including artists Sanford Biggers, Leslie Hewitt, Steffani Jemison, Steve Locke, and Victoria-Idongesit Udondian.
AWARDS & HONORS | April 16: Sobey Art Foundation and National Gallery of Canada modify annual Sobey Art Award to support more artists during global pandemic. Rather than one 2020 winner and five finalists, 25 long list artists are recognized, including Luther Konadu, Moridja Kitenge Banza, and Manuel Mathieu, each receiving $25,000 CAD.
AWARDS & HONORS | April 18: New York photographer Dannielle Bowman wins 2020 Aperture Portfolio Prize, including $3,000 cash award, her work published in Aperture magazine, and exhibition at Baxter St. at the Camera Club in New York.
APPOINTMENTS | April 21: Trevor Schoonmaker named director of Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University, where he previously served as deputy director of curatorial affairs and curator of contemporary art. Career-long champion of artists of color, Schoonmaker organized landmark “Barkley Hendricks: Birth of the Cool” exhibition.
AWARDS & HONORS | April 21: Association of Art Museum Curators announces 2020 Curatorial Awards For Excellence. Catalog recognitions include Carol S. Eliel for “Betye Saar: Call and Response” and Elizabeth Hutton Turner, Austen Barron Bailly, and Lydia Gordon for “Jacob Lawrence: The American Struggle.” In Exhibitions category, honors include Mark Godfrey, Zoé Whitley, and Sarah Loyer for presentation “Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power, 1963–1983” at The Broad in Los Angeles.
LIVES | April 19: Pellom McDaniels III (1968-2020), curator of African American collections at Emory University’s Stuart A. Rose Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library in Atlanta, dies April 19. He was 52. “The depth of our sorrow and grief at Pellom’s passing is matched only by our boundless appreciation and admiration for the tremendous gifts and contributions Pellom brought to his life’s work to elevate and celebrate African American history,” Rose Library director Jennifer Gunter King says.
NEWS | April 27: Prospect New Orleans announces one-year postponement of Prospect.5 due to COVID-19 pandemic. Citywide contemporary art triennial scheduled to open fall 2020 delayed to Oct. 23, 2021-Jan. 23, 2022.
AUCTIONS | April 21: Museum of the African Diaspora (MoAD) in San Francisco launches its first benefit auction with Artsy. Artists, galleries, and collectors from across country come together donating artworks to support museum as it faces funding shortfall and possible interruption of operations due to COVID-19 pandemic. (MoAD reports raising more than $450,000.)
AWARDS & HONORS | April 27: Entrepreneur Nia Batts and artist McArthur Binion announce Modern Ancient Brown, providing Detroit- and Western Michigan-based residencies for artists from anywhere. Opportunities offer “time and space to explore and tell their own stories.”
< BOOKS | April 28: Nicole R. Fleetwood‘s “Marking Time: Art in the Age of Mass Incarceration” is published on occasion of groundbreaking MoMA PS1 exhibition.
JEAN-MICHEL BASQUIAT | Jean-Michel Basquiat estate collaborates on Basquiat Barbie with Mattel in April; Dr. Marten’s x Jean-Michel Basquiat boots and shoes for men, women, and children in July; and Coach x Jean-Michel Basquiat collection of purses, accessories, t-shirts, and outerwear in September (with campaign photographed by Micaiah Carter). | Video by Coach
LIVES | May 2: Born and raised in Brooklyn, artist Louis Delasarte dies in Atlanta. He was 75. Delasarte’s vibrant paintings, drawings, and public murals were unabashed celebrations of African American history and culture.
EXHIBITIONS | May 2: Lorna Simpson debuts new collages in online exhibition “Give Me Some Moments” at Hauser & Wirth, with many works made in isolation during COVID-19 quarantine.
NEWS > | May 5: Monumental, 1980s frieze by Akili Ron Anderson depicting Black Last Supper discovered by construction crew behind a wall at Studio Acting Conservancy (which is housed in former church) in Washington, D.C., will remain after attempts to find new home proved too expensive and potentially destructive. | Photo by Evy Mages
BOOKS | May 5: “Writing the Future: Basquiat and the Hip-Hop Generation” published to accompany exhibition co-organized by curator Liz Munsell and Greg Tate at Museum of Fine Arts Boston, featuring works by Jean-Michel Basquiat and his peers.
AWARDS & HONORS | May 7: Artadia’s 2020 New York awards go to Alexandra Bell and Joiri Minaya, with each artist receiving $10,000 unrestricted grant.
< BOOKS | May 8: Wadsworth Jarrell, artist and co-founder of AFRICOBRA collective, publishes “AFRICOBRA: Experimental Art toward a School of Thought”—comprehensive account of collective, its Chicago origins and artistic and political principles.
AWARDS & HONORS | May 12: Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation awards unrestricted biennial grants of $20,000 to 20 artists, including Diedrick Brackens, Brendan Fernandes, Khalil Robert Irving, Deana Lawson, Tschabalala Self, Paul Mpagi Sepuya, Sable Elyse Smith, and Diamond Stingily. Seven-member jury, including Anne Ellegood, Kerry James Marshall, Cindy Sherman, and Robert Storr, selects recipients.
NEWS | May 14: Italianate red brick residence that was longtime home of abstract artist Alma Thomashits market in Washington, D.C., listed by Long & Foster at more than $2.2 million. (Sells for $2 million on Sept. 25, 2020.)
AWARDS & HONORS | May 16: AFRICOBRA artists and School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) alums Jae Jarrell, Wadsworth Jarrell, and Gerald Williams receive honorary doctorates from SAIC during 2020 online commencement exercises.
AUCTIONS | May 16: Thom Pegg inaugurates Black Art Auction based in Indianapolis, Ind., featuring 152 lots, with buyers participating by phone and online only given COVID-19 pandemic. Longtime gallery owner (Tyler Fine Art in St. Louis, Mo.), Pegg previously partnered with Treadway Gallery in Cincinnati, coordinating sale of African American art in its auctions. New venture is expected to offer three auctions annually.
NEWS | May 19: Unveiling of President Barack Obama‘s official White House portrait delayed. Obama “has no interest in participating in the post-presidency rite of passage so long as Trump is in office,” according to NBC news. (Two different Presidential portraits are displayed at White House and National Portrait Gallery.)
BOOKS | May 19: New Museum in New York publishes fourth installment of Critical Anthologies in Art and Culture series. “Saturation: Race, Art, and the Circulation of Value” is co-edited by C. Riley Snorton and Hentyle Yapp, and includes essays, conversations, and artist portfolios from about 50 contributors, including Isolde Brielmaier, Jeffrey Gibson, Byron Kim, Thomas J. Lax, Ralph Lemon, Tavia Nyong’o, Lorraine O’Grady, and Hortense J. Spillers.
LIVES > | May 20: Pioneering artist Emma Amos (1937-2020), “dynamic painter and master colorist” who spent her career in New York, dies in Bedford, N.H. She was 83.
NEWS | May 21: United States Postal Service issues new Voices of the Harlem Renaissance Forever stamps featuring Alain Locke, Nella Larsen, Anne Spencer, and Arturo Alfonso Schomburg.
AWARDS & HONORS | May 22: Firelei Báez wins 2020 Herb Alpert Award in the Arts in visual arts category, including $75,000 prize.
ACQUISITION | May 22: After representing estate of Bob Thompson (1937-1966) for 23 years, Michael Rosenfeld Gallery announces acquisition of artist’s estate from his family, including artworks, sketchbooks, and intellectual property rights.
BLACK LIVES MATTER PLAZA | In Washington, D.C., on June 5, Mayor Muriel E. Bowser renames block of 16th Street, NW, adjacent to White House, Black Lives Matter Plaza, complete with large yellow block letters spelling out “Black Lives Matter” on asphalt. Action is intended to “honor” BLM demonstrators following escalated response by police and National Guard troops attempting to clear peaceful protestors from in front of White House four days earlier. In weeks following, cities across nation sanction similar public art projects painting “Black Lives Matter” on their streets, from Sacramento, San Francisco, and Hollywood, Calif., to Dallas, Kansas City, Mo., Tulsa, Okla., and five boroughs of New York City. (On Oct. 20, DC Council votes to make naming of Black Lives Matter Plaza permanent.) | Video by The Washington Post
NEWS > | June 4: As protestors take to streets and gather in parks and plazas calling for police prosecutions, police reform, and racial justice in cities across nation (and world) in response to Black people being killed by police and white vigilantes, Black women photographers are among those documenting daily demonstrations. | Photo: Cadman Plaza, Brooklyn, N.Y. © Kay Hickman
LIVES | June 1: Collector Ronald Ollie dies at age 69. In 2017, Ollie and his wife, Monique Ollie, made major gift of African American abstract art to Saint Louis Art Museum, on view in “The Shape of Abstraction: Selections From the Ollie Collection” at time of his death.
NEWS | June 10: From Philadelphia to Bristol, monuments commemorating Confederacy and imperialism are being graffitied and toppled.
MUSEUMS | June 9: New York Times report reveals Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland canceled in March long-planned exhibition featuring drawings of victims of police brutality without consulting artist, Shaun Leonardo. Museum expresses concern about response from local community where Tamir Rice, 12, was killed by Cleveland police in 2014. Leonardo accuses museum of censorship. (See More below: Aug. 26)
MUSEUMS | June 10: Curators from Smithsonian museums are collecting art and signs from police brutality protestors and advocates of Black Lives Matters in areas adjacent to White House.
NEWS | June 18: National Trust for Historic Preservation issues statement about Confederate monuments and said their “removal may be necessary to achieve greater good of ensuring racial justice and equality.”
NEWS | June 19: Historic Preservationist Maya Thomas initiates $100,000 campaign to purchase Philadelphia home of artist and printmaker Dox Thrash (1893-1965).
PUBLIC ART | June 22: Hackney Council in London announces selection of Thomas J. Price and Veronica Ryan to create public artworks that celebrate and honor Windrush generation in Hackney. Sculptures will be first public artworks in UK dedicated to Black Caribbeans who arrived in Great Britain between about 1948 and 1971.
< NEWS | June 22: Howard University is suing for return of “Centralia Madonna” by Charles White. Drawing disappeared from its collection in 1970s, then showed up at Sotheby’s auction house in May when elderly African American couple from South Carolina attempted to consign work for sale. | Image Source: Court Documents
MUSEUMS | June 26: For 48 hours, from Friday, June 26 at 2 p.m. EDT, to Sunday, June 28 at 2 p.m. EDT, international consortium of museums and private collections simultaneously live stream Arthur Jafa‘s “Love is the Message.”
NEWS | June 29: Criticized for lack of diversity, Magnum photo agency adds five new photographers to roster. Nominees include Hannah Price of Philadelphia, Colby Deal of Houston, and Khalik Allah of New York. Motion also passed elevating South African photographer Lindokuhle Sobekwa to associate.
AUCTIONS | June 29: At Sotheby’s Contemporary Art Evening Auction, “Untitled (Head)” (1982) by Jean-Michel Basquiat sells for nearly $15.2 million, setting new artist record for work on paper.
ACQUISITION | June 30: Getty Research Institute and USC School of Architecture jointly acquire archive of legendary architect Paul R. Williams (1894-1980), an alum of USC, including about 35,000 plans, 10,000 original drawings, blueprints, hand-colored renderings, photographs, correspondence, and other items.
NEWS | June 30: Curator Dexter Wimberly introduces Hayama Artist Residency, new international artist-in-residence program in Japan designed to immerse visual artists in Japanese culture and provide opportunity to participate in group exhibition at local gallery.
TRIBUTE MURALS | After police murder Breonna Taylor in Louisville, Ky. (March 13) and George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minn. (May 25), murals paying tribute to their lives and legacies, and serving as makeshift memorials, sprout up in their hometowns and throughout country, from California to Wisconsin, and New York. In Annapolis, Md., paying tribute to Taylor, volunteers and teaching artists paint 7,000-square-foot mural across two basketball courts in Chambers Park. July 5 project is organized by Future History Now, youth organization focused on mural projects; Banneker-Douglass Museum; and Maryland Commission on African American History and Culture. | Photo by Julio Cortez/AP
MAGAZINES | International protests spurred by police murders and national racial reckoning coincide with, and likely prompt, increased representation of Black artists and photographers among mainstream magazine commissions. Racial justice covers, including Titus Kaphar’s homage to Black mothers for Time (June 15); Kadir Nelson’s images of George Floyd for The New Yorker (June 22) and protestors for Rolling Stone (July); illustration of Breonna Taylor by Alexis Franklin for O: The Oprah Magazine (September); and portrait of Taylor by Amy Sherald for special issue of Vanity Fair guest-edited by journalist and author Ta-Nehisi Coates (September), in particular, resonate. British Vogue showcases Manchester United and England footballer Marcus Rashford and Adwoa Aboah, model and mental health advocate, on September cover, with many more activists featured on gatefold, most captured by Black photographers.
APPOINTMENT | July 1: Art Historian Kellie Jones named inaugural Hans Haufman Professor of Modern Art at Columbia University.
< AWARDS & HONORS | July 2: After June announcement that due to COVID-19 pandemic, presenting Turner Prize exhibition wasn’t feasible, rather than pick one prize winner, jury selects 10 artists receiving £10,000 bursaries (monetary awards), including, clockwise from top left, Alberta Whittle, Ima-Abasi Okon, Liz Johnson Artur, and Shawanda Corbett. | Photos via The Scotsman, by Artor Jesus Inkerö, Courtesy the artist (Artur), Courtesy the artist (Corbett)
AWARDS & HONORS | July 2: United States Artists recognizes gallerist and activist Linda Goode Bryant with 2020 Berresford Prize, including $25,000.
ACQUISITIONS > | July 6: National Portrait Gallery in London unveils commissioned portrait of renowned British author and arts writer Zadie Smith by artist Toyin Ojih Odutola.
FILMS | July 7: Cintia Cabib‘s documentary “Kindred Spirits: Artists Hilda Wilkinson Brown and Lilian Thomas Burwell,” about Washington,D.C., artists Hilda Wilkinson Brown (1894-1981) and niece Lilian Thomas Burwell, debuts on PBS.
NEWS | July 7: MacDowell Colony, the New Hampshire artist residency program, changes name to simply MacDowell, removing “Colony” by unanimous vote of board of directors after staff petitions raised concerns about the “oppressive overtones” of terminology.
PUBLIC ART | July 7: Public art installation on facade of 236 Westbourne Grove in London’s Notting Hill neighborhood features work of Khadija Saye (1992-2017), promising young artist who died in Grenfell Tower fire in 2017.
MUSEUMS | July 13: To document COVID-19 pandemic, Smithsonian’s Anacostia Community Museum in Washington, D.C., asks public to share experiences for new project—#MomentsOfResilience archive.
AWARDS & HONORS | July 13: Koyo Kouoh, director of Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa (Zeitz MOCAA) in Cape Town, South Africa, is one of four recipients of prestigious Prix Meret Oppenheim 2020, from Swiss Federal Office of Culture. Honor includes 40,000 Swiss Francs (about US $42,341). Cameroon-born Kouoh grew up in Switzerland. Watch Video
EXHIBITIONS | July 14: In wake of pandemic, Oscar Murillo quarantines in small factory town of La Paila, Colombia, where he was born. While at home, he collaborates with local church to provide food and essentials for community. Church also serves as exhibition space. David Zwirner presents “from placards to paintings,” show of new large-scale abstract paintings by Murillo. “I think of these new paintings as a manifestation of where I find myself now. They represent the anxiety of the current crisis,” Murillo says.
< AWARDS & HONORS | July 14: Open Society Foundations announces 10 recipients of 2020 Soros Arts Fellowship, including Deborah Anzinger, Rachèle Magloire, Meleko Mokgosi, Tiago Sant’Ana, and Olu Oguibe, each receiving $80,000 to support major project. | Clockwise, from top left, Basel Abbas, Ruanne Abou-Rahme, Abdullah Alkafri, Deborah Anzinger, Nicholas Galanin, Tiago Sant’Ana, Olu Oguibe, Meleko Mokgosi, Paloma McGregor, Rachèle Magloire
PUBLIC ART | July 15: Acting in support of Black Lives Matter movement, UK demonstrators toppled monument to slave trader Edward Colston. More than month later artist Eric Quinn replaces it with statue of Jen Reid, one of protestors. Marvin Rees, mayor of Bristol says installation not authorized, without indicating whether it would stay. Quinn, who is white, tells Guardian: “Hope flows through this statue.” Artist Thomas J. Price, who is Black, has problem with rogue sculpture, writing in The Art Newspaper it “was yet another example of white privilege in action.” Day later, Bristol Council has statue removed. Watch Video
MUSEUMS | July 15: Museum of African American History in Boston establishes new social justice program with $1 million grant from Liberty Mutual Foundation.
APPOINTMENTS | July 16: Seba Raquel Suber is appointed director of finance and strategic resources at Contemporary Arts Museum Houston (CAMH)
LIVES | July 17: Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), civil rights icon and lifelong freedom fighter representing Atlanta in Congress, dies. He was 80. An avid collector of African American art, he advocated for establishing Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture.
PUBLIC ART | July 28: Yale University commissions Seattle-based artist Barbara Earl Thomas to design new windows for dining hall at Grace Hopper College, residential college previously named after slavery advocate John C. Calhoun and was renamed in 2017 for Hopper, pioneering computer scientist and mathematician who earned her Ph.D. from Yale in 1934.
NEWS | July 28: Multi-ethnic contingent of artists and cultural leaders associated with organizations across variety of disciplines calls for Cultural New Deal for Cultural and Racial Justice. Expansive group includes Amy Andrieux, Jeff Chang, Emory Douglas, and Carrie Mae Weems. Read More
< AUCTIONS | July 31: “Say It Loud,” online selling exhibition organized by curator Destinee Ross-Sutton is hosted by Christie’s auction house, featuring 22 international artists of African descent, with 100 percent of proceeds going to artists. | | Installation view of YOYO LANDER, “Have Tears,” 2020 (cut water color paper on paper). © Yoyo Lander, Courtesy the artist and Destinee Ross-Sutton & Associates
MAGAZINES | July/August: Dario Calmese photographs history-making cover of Vanity Fair. “To the best of our knowledge, it is the first Vanity Fair cover made by a Black photographer,” VF Editor-in-Chief Radhika Jones says. Calmese’s portrait of Viola Davis, referencing “The Scourged Back” (1863), image of enslaved Black man’s back ravaged by whipping scars, prompts praise and some criticism. Read More
AMOAKO BOAFO | Artist to watch, Ghanaian-born, Vienna-based painter Amoako Boafo collaborates with artistic director Kim Jones on Dior Men’s Spring/Summer 2021 collection in July. Boafo’s work covers summer edition of Bomb magazine and “I Stand By Me,” his first exhibition with Mariane Ibrahim Gallery in Chicago opens Sept. 10. On Feb. 13, sale of “The Lemon Bathing Suit” (2019) at Phillips marks Boafo’s major auction debut, with astronomic result ($881,550) more than 13 times the high estimate. Throughout year, his paintings are offered at auction by buyers eager to capitalize on his early recognition. Dec. 2 result at Christie’s (“Baba Diop,” 2019) sets new artist record at auction, selling for about $1.1 million. | Video by Christian Dior
AWARDS & HONORS | Aug. 4: Shortlist announced for Future Generation Art Prize presented by Victor Pinchuk Foundation in Ukraine. Slate of 21 international artists includes Wendimagegn Belete (Ethiopia), Minia Biabiany (Guadeloupe), Rindon Johnson (United States), Bronwyn Katz (South Africa), Paul Maheke (France), and Frida Orupabo (Norway). Presented by the PinchukArtCentre in Kyiv, Ukraine, prize is worth $100,000. Exhibition scheduled October 2021, with winner announced December 2021.
< ACQUISITION | Aug. 7: National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., announces acquisition of 1971 assemblage work by John Outterbridge, first work by artist to enter collection. | JOHN OUTTERBRIDGE, “Plus Tax: Shopping Bag Society, Rag Man Series,” 1971 (mixed media, overall: 50.8 x 34.3 x 19.1 cm / 20 x 13 1/2 x 7 1/2 inches).
AWARDS & HONORS | Aug. 7: Wangkajunga–Walmajarri artist Ngarralja Tommy May wins National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art award (Natsiaa). “I’ve been trying all my life [to win],” he says about $50,000 prize.
APPOINTMENTS | Aug. 10: Deborah Smith named director of Arts Council Collection in London. Owned by Arts Council of England, the collection includes more than 8,000 works by more than 2,000 artists and is “most widely circulated national loan collection of modern and contemporary British art.”
AWARDS & HONORS | Aug. 10: deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum in Lincoln, Mass., announces artist Sonya Clark is 2020 recipient of annual Rappaport Prize, including $35,000 and public lecture in early 2021.
< BOOKS | Aug. 11: Edited by Okwui Enwezor (1963-2019), “Samuel Fosso: Autoportrait,” first comprehensive monograph of West African photographer, is published. Since mid-1970s, Samuel Fosso has been recognized for his conceptual self portraits.
NEWS | Aug. 12: Art Dealers Association of America (ADAA) welcomes six new members, including Black-owned Mariane Ibrahim Gallery in Chicago.
REPRESENTATION | Aug. 12: Chicago artist Hebru Brantley joins WME (William Morris Endeavor). He was previously with UTA (United Talent Agency).
APPOINTMENTS | Aug. 13: Creative Capital adds six new members to board of directors, including artist Edgar Arceneaux and Reginald M. Browne, a Philadelphia-based capital markets executive, and also introduces new National Advisory Council co-chaired by artist Fred Wilson.
NEWS | Aug. 13: Mei-Lee Ney, chair of Board of Trustees at Otis College of Art and Design contributes $1 million to support anti-racism initiatives, scholarships for Black students, and hiring diversity executive at Los Angeles institution.
APPOINTMENTS | Aug. 13: Five trustees-at-large appointed to board of Association of Art Museum Curators (AAMC) & AAMC Foundation, including Myrtis Bedolla of Galerie Myrtis in Baltimore and Wendy Chang, director of Rennie Collection in Vancouver, which has significant holdings by important African American artists, including David Hammons, Kerry James Marshall, and Lorna Simpson.
APPOINTMENTS | Aug. 20: Museum of Modern Art in New York names James Grooms general counsel and secretary to board of trustees.
AWARDS & HONORS | Aug. 24: Lava Thomas, whose multidisciplinary practices explores issues of race, gender, representation and memorialization, receives a 2020 San Francisco Artadia Award.
NEWS > | Aug. 25: Philanthropist Eileen Harris Norton, a co-founder of Art + Practice, presents $5 million gift to California Institute of the Arts to create Charles Gaines Faculty Chair and “provide much-needed support to Black and underrepresented faculty.” Charles Gaines, highly regarded Los Angeles-based artist and celebrated educator for more than 30 years at CalArts, for whom chair is named, will be first to hold position. | Photo: Charles-Gaines. ©-Fredrik-Nilsen, Courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth
EXHIBITIONS | Aug. 25: Within one day of announcing exhibition (“Collective Actions: Artist Interventions In a Time of Change”) featuring artworks acquired from Black Lives Matter and COVID-19 benefit auctions and sales, such as See in Black organized by collective of Black photographers, Whitney Museum of American Art in New York cancels show after being accused of exploiting artists, given works were purchased at discounted prices without permission of artists.
AWARDS & HONORS | Aug. 25: At Frieze London, Glasgow-based Alberta Whittle wins Frieze Artist Award 2020.
NEWS | Aug. 26: Painter Frank Bowling and Hales Gallery in London, are in multi-million dollar legal dispute over his artistic legacy and sales and accounting of his work.
MUSEUMS | Aug. 26: Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (Mass MoCA) opens “Shaun Leonardo: The Breath of Empty Space” presenting drawings by Shaun Leonardo of police violence against Black and Latino men and boys. After series was shown without incident at the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore, exhibition was canceled at the Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland. Show heads to the Bronx Museum of the Arts next.
SIMONE LEIGH | After beginning 2020 with new gallery representation at Hauser & Wirth, Simone Leigh is selected Oct. 14 to represent the United States at 59th Venice Biennale in 2022 with solo exhibition in American Pavilion. Brooklyn-based sculptor focused on Black female subjectivity is first Black woman chosen and third Black artist in row to represent United States at international exhibition (following Mark Bradford and Martin Puryear). | Simone Leigh, Stratton Sculpture Studios, 2020. © Simone Leigh, Courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth. Photo by Shaniqwa Jarvis
< MAGAZINES | September 2020: Artforum considers America’s carceral state. Artist Stanley Whitney‘s No Prison Life series appears on cover, inside features conversation between Nicole R. Fleetwood (curator of “Marking Time: Art in the Age of Mass Incarceration” at MoMA PS1) and novelist Rachel Kushner about mass incarceration and art made by people who are imprisoned.
MUSEUMS | September: A powerful group of Black museum trustees meets for first time this month, forming Black Trustee Alliance for Art Museums, with goal to diversify museum boards and drive meaningful change throughout institutions.
APPOINTMENTS | Sept. 1: Under leadership of Steven Nelson, National Gallery of Art’s Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts in Washington, D.C., announces 2020-2021 academic-year appointments, including Huey Copeland, Mel Harper, and Melanee C. Harvey.
NEWS | Sept. 1: Google Doodle celebrates Jackie Ormes (1911-1985), “first and only Black female newspaper cartoonist of her time in the United States.” Liz Montague illustrates doodle. She is first Black female cartoonist published in The New Yorker.
AWARDS & HONORS | Sept. 1: Curator Okwui Enwezor (1963-2019) among recipients of posthumous 2020 Special Golden Lions awarded by Venice Biennale.
AWARDS & HONORS | Sept. 9: Destinie Adelakun receives 2020 Canadian Women Artists’ Award from New York Foundation for the Arts.
AWARDS & HONORS > | Sept. 10: Studio Museum in Harlem names 2020-2021 Artists-in-Residence: Widline Cadet, Genesis Jerez, Texas Isaiah, and Jacolby Satterwhite. | Clockwise, from left, Widline Cadet (detail) – Photo By Widline Cadet; Genesis Jerez – Photo by Jason Mandella; Texas Isaiah – Photo by the artist; Jacolby Satterwhite (detail) – Photo by Thomas McCarty for SSENSE (2020)
AWARDS & HONORS | Sept. 10: Wilmington, Del.-based painter Peter Williams, visual storyteller and cultural critic with penchant for bold color, receives Artists’ Legacy Foundation 2020 Artist Award, including $25,000 prize. Read More
SYMPOSIUMS | Sept. 17: National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., hosts major virtual tribute to artist and scholar David C. Driskell (1931-2020). John Wilmerding Symposium on American Art is presented in partnership with David C. Driskell Center for the Study of the Visual Arts and Culture of African Americans and the African Diaspora at University of Maryland, College Park, and Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture.
TELEVISION | Sept. 18: Season 10 of Art 21’s Art in the Twenty-First Century debuts on PBS and Art21.org, featuring British artist and filmmaker John Akomfrah in London.
NEWS | Sept. 21: To bring attention to colonial-era cultural theft, Congolese activist Mwazulu Diyabanza is taking African art from French museums and videotaping attempted seizures.
AWARDS & HONORS | Sept. 22: Brooklyn-based Jon Henry wins 2020 Arnold Newman Prize For New Directions in Photographic Portraiture, an annual $20,000 award, from Maine Media Workshops + College in Rockport, Maine.
MAGAZINES | Sept. 22: Time 100 list of most influential people of 2020 includes legendary Harlem fashion designer Dapper Dan, filmmaker and activist Tourmaline, abstract artist Julie Mehretu whose tribute is written by architect David Adjaye, and Black Lives Matter Founders Alicia Garza, Opal Tometi, Patrisse Cullors, an artist and co-founder of the Crenshaw Dairy Mart, a collective art space and gallery.
< AWARDS & HONORS | Sept. 24: Vincent Namatjira wins 2020 Archibald Prize with “Stand Strong for Who You Are,” a self-portrait with Adam Goodes, champion Aboriginal Australian Rules footballer who left sport due to racism. Namatjira is first Aboriginal artist to win open competition judged by trustees of Art Gallery of New South Wales and considered Australia’s most prestigious portrait prize. “…it’s about time…,” Namatjira says. | Photo: Mim Stirling/AGNSW
PUBLIC ART | Sept. 24: Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library, central branch of DC Public Library system reopens (with limited services) after $211 million, three-year renovation. New library features African American art: restored King mural by late New Jersey artist Don Miller; works by local artist Nekisha Durrett; ceiling installation by Xenobia Bailey; and works on paper by abstract artist Alma Thomas on permanent display in teen room named for her. (Plus, sculptural bench by Martin Puryear to be installed early 2021.)
AWARDS & HONORS | Sept. 24: Drawing Center in New York holds virtual gala with artist Henry Taylor and writer Zadie Smith, among honorees. Collector AC Hudgins tells wonderful story about power of Taylor’s art; Los Angeles artist gives tour of his home workspace; Kwame Anthony Appiah introduces Smith and novelist explains why she began writing about artists. Watch Video
MUSEUMS | Sept. 25: Originally expected to open June 2020 at National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., “Philip Guston Now” traveling retrospective pushed back to 2024 by four host museums concerned about two dozen works showing cartoonish images of white-hooded Ku Klux Klansmen. Decision raises ire and prompts nearly 100 artists and curators to issue open letter via The Brooklyn Rail (with 2,000+ joining after publication), calling for reinstatement of exhibition. Museums revisit delay, announce show will debut in 2022. Already published, exhibition catalog features contributions from artists Glenn Ligon and Trenton Doyle Hancock.
EXHIBITIONS > | Sept. 29: “Meleko Mokgosi: Democratic Intuition” opens Gagosian gallery’s London space on Brittania Street. Exhibition is New York-based Meleko Mokgosi‘s first show in UK and Europe. | MELEKO MOKGOSI, Detail of “Bread, Butter, and Power,” 2018 (in 21 parts). © Meleko Mokgosi
APPOINTMENTS | Sept. 29: Kevin Young named director of Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) in Washington, D.C. Young has been director of Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in New York since 2016. He starts at NMAAHC Jan. 11, 2021.
AUCTION | Sept. 29: AmRef Health Africa’s Art Ball benefit auction goes live on Artsy through Oct. 13. Works by more than 30 African artist offered with sales supporting the organization’s COVID-19 programs in eight African countries. Working from within, AmRef Health Africa’s overarching goal is to transform healthcare throughout Africa by training local healthcare workers and providing healthcare services “to meet the continent’s dynamic and critical” healthcare needs.
AWARDS & HONORS | Sept. 30: David Adjaye recieves 2021 Royal Gold Medal, from Royal Institute of British Architects recognizing lifetime of work, honor is personally approved by Queen Elizabeth.
NEWS | Sept. 30: After 15 years, The Laundromat Project, self described “Black-rooted and POC-centered” arts organization headquartered in Harlem (with a program space in The South Bronx) announces move to Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn.
DEANA LAWSON | On Oct. 23, Deana Lawson wins 2020 Hugo Boss Prize, including $100,000 award and solo exhibition at Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York in 2021. Lawson is first photographer to win biennial prize. Her work “examines body’s ability to channel personal and social histories.” Lawson joined David Kordansky Gallery in Los Angeles June 29, and a few days after winning Hugo Boss Prize is honored by International Center of Photography at annual Spotlights benefit honoring women in visual arts working in photography and film (Oct. 27). Watch Video | Photo Courtesy Guggenheim Museum
APPOINTMENTS | Oct. 1: Black Lunch Table (BLT) expands board of directors, adding four new members: Nicole Caruth; Lisa Dent, Hasan Elahi, and Sarah Workneh. Founded by artists Heather Hart and Jina Valentine, BLT is oral history archiving project with programs including Wikipedia edit-a-thons and interdisciplinary and inter-generational lunch table discussions among artists, cultural producers, and community at-large.
NEWS | Oct. 1: To support arts organizations facing critical budget shortfalls in wake of COVID-19 pandemic, Hauser & Wirth Gallery organizes Artists for New York with dozens of artists including Derrick Adams, Michael Armitage, Firelei Báez, Sanford Biggers, Ebony G. Patterson, Adam Pendleton, and Lorna Simpson donating works for sale to benefit 14 organizations, including the Studio Museum in Harlem, El Museo del Barrio, High Line Art, MoMA PS1, and Public Art Fund, as well as two nonprofit charitable partners The Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City and Foundation for Contemporary Arts (FCA).
AWARDS & HONORS | Oct. 1: Curator Bonaventure Soh Bejeng Ndikung receives Order of Merit of Berlin, the city-state’s highest honor.
NEWS | Oct. 2: More than 100 artists rally to raise funds for Joe Biden-Kamala Harris U.S. Presidential campaign. Artists for Biden features works by Sam Gilliam, Tavares Strachan, Carrie Mae Weems, and Kehinde Wiley, among many others for sale (early access Oct. 1) on David Zwirner’s Platform site.
ACQUISITION | Oct. 5: Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Ark., announces acquisition of “Mazda” (1970), an early drape painting by Washington, D.C.-based abstract artist Sam Gilliam.
< REPRESENTATION | Oct. 6: Guyana-born, British painter Frank Bowling joins Hauser & Wirth. Describing his work, gallery says Bowling “has relentlessly pursued a practice which boldly expands the possibilities and properties of paint. Ambitious in scale and scope, his dynamic engagement with the materiality of his chosen medium, and its evolution in the broad sweep of art history, has resulted in paintings of unparalleled originality and power.”
AWARDS & HONORS | Oct. 6: MacArthur Foundation announces 2020 MacArthur Fellows. Group of 21 “exceptionally creative individuals” receiving $625,000 stipends includes cultural theorist Fred Moten and Ralph Lemon, choreographer and multidisciplinary visual artist.
AWARDS & HONORS | Oct. 6: British-Nigerian artist Yinka Shonibare CBE receives Robson Orr TenTen Award 2020 from Government Art Collection. Commissioned print by Shonibare will be displayed in UK’s diplomatic buildings around the world. Watch Video
APPOINTMENTS > | Oct. 7: Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens appoints Andrea Barnwell Brownlee director and CEO. Brownlee joins Jacksonville, Fla., museum after two decades as director of Spelman College Museum of Fine Art in Atlanta.
NEWS | Oct. 8: The Guggenheim Museum in New York announces departure of Nancy Spector, museum’s artistic director and chief curator, in wake of independent investigation into treatment of Chaédria LaBouvier, first solo Black curator of an exhibition at Guggenheim, who organized “Basquiat’s ‘Defacement’: The Untold Story” in 2019
AWARDS & HONORS | Oct. 8: Filmmaker, photographer, and writer dana washington-queen receives 2020 Ellsworth Kelley Award for exhibition she is presenting at Institute for Contemporary Art at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond.
ART FAIRS | Oct. 8: Artistic Director Eva Langret presides over her first edition of Frieze London (Oct. 8-11), a greatly modified and mostly online event due to COVID-19 pandemic.
ART FAIRS | Oct. 8: Staged at Somerset House, 1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair is only international art fair to open in London during fall season as others migrate online, given global coronavirus pandemic. Find More
NEWS | Oct. 9: British painter Frank Bowling receives knighthood from Queen Elizabeth as part of her birthday honors list, announced twice a year. Bowling previously was designated an officer of Order of the British Empire by the queen of England.
NEWS | Oct. 12: “Incidents in the History of Catonsville,” 1942 mural depicting slavery at Baltimore-area U.S. Post Office is covered after state and federal elected officials call for its removal.
APPOINTMENT | Oct. 13: University of California’s Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive (BAMPFA) announces Elaine Yau as inaugural associate curator of Eli Leon Collection of African American Quilts.
NEWS | Oct. 13: U.S. Postal Service issues new Kwanzaa stamp featuring artwork by Andrea Pippins.
< PUBLIC ART | Oct. 15: Launched earlier in year, Carrie Mae Weems brings “RESIST COVID TAKE 6!” public art campaign shedding light on racial disparities related to pandemic, to Lincoln Center in New York. | Installation view of CARRIE MAE WEEMS, Resist COVID-19 Take 6!, Lincoln Center, New York, N.Y. Photo © James Wang
NEWS | Oct. 15: Art collector Raymond J. McGuire announces run for mayor of New York City in 2021. McGuire, who stepped down as vice chair of Citigroup to launch campaign, is board chair of Studio Museum in Harlem and also sits on board of trustees at Whitney Museum of American Art.
APPOINTMENTS | Oct. 16: Stuart Clarke elected board chair at Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore.
EXHIBITIONS | Oct. 16: “Howardena Pindell: Rope/Fire/Water” opens at The Shed in New York City, exhibition “about the brutality of racism and the healing power of art” features paintings and Howardena Pindell‘s first video in 25 years.
ACQUISITIONS | Oct. 16: Collectors Pamela Joyner and Alfred J. Giuffrida acquire painting of fashion designer Aurora James by Jordan Casteel and plan long-term loan to San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Portrait was featured on cover of September 2020 fall fashion issue of American Vogue.
AWARDS & HONORS > | Oct. 19: Kapwani Kiwanga wins 2020 Prix Marcel Duchamp, France’s top art prize. Canadian-born, Paris-based Kiwanga is first Black artist chosen for award, which includes €35,000 (about $41,000).
MAGAZINES | Oct. 19: Chicago-based photographer Dawoud Bey is among The Greats. T Magazine at The New York Times names its annual group of exceptional cultural figures, “five talents who in mastering their crafts, have changed their fields — and the culture at large,” including Bey, who is photographed by LaToya Ruby Frazier for profile.
APPOINTMENTS | Oct. 20: Artists now lead board of trustees of SculptureCenter in Long Island City, N.Y. With Carol Bove serving as chair, Sanford Biggers rises to president and Leslie Hewitt is newly elected to board, whose members also include Fred Wilson.
AWARDS & HONORS | Oct. 21: Recipients of Joan Mitchell Foundation’s 2020 Painters & Sculptors Grants include Natalie Bell, Reggie Burrows Hodges, Khalil Robert Irving, Caroline Kent, Demetrius Oliver, Tomashi Jackson, Arvie Smith, Jordan Weber, and Didier William.
APPOINTMENTS | Oct. 21: Savannah College of Art & Design names Joël Díaz director of Walter O. Evans Center for African American Studies, which is housed within the SCAD Museum of Art.
< NEWS | Oct. 21: One of five panels missing from Jacob Lawrence‘s Struggle series is found, revealed to be hanging in apartment on New York’s Upper West Side. Owners bought painting at 1960 charity auction. Dated 1956, Panel 16 depicts uprising of farmers in Massachusetts and is now on view at Metropolitan Museum of Art. Organized by Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, Mass., “Jacob Lawrence: The American Struggle” runs through Nov. 1, before traveling to Birmingham Museum of Art in Alabama. | JACOB LAWRENCE, “Struggle Series” (Panel 16), 1956 (tempura on hardboard). The Jacob and Gwendolyn Knight Lawrence Foundation, Seattle/Artists Rights Society (ARS)
SYMPOSIUMS | Oct. 23: Baltimore bead artist Joyce J. Scott gives keynote address at 2020 Oral History Association annual conference via Zoom.
FILM | Oct. 23: Underway for decade, first full-length documentary about Beauford Delaney delayed due to obstacles to filming in wake of COVID-19 pandemic.
EXHIBITIONS | Oct. 23: “John Edmonds: A Sidelong Glance” opens at Brooklyn Museum. John Edmonds won inaugural UOVO Prize, which recognizes an emerging Brooklyn artist. Exhibition is part of prize and photographer’s first solo museum show.
APPOINTMENTS | Oct. 26: Nigel Freeman, founding director of African-American Fine Art Department at Swann Auction Galleries is appointed vice president, will continue to serve as head of African American art and also support overall growth and strategy of family-owned New York auction house.
APPOINTMENTS | Oct. 27: Evans Richardson IV, chief of staff at Studio Museum in Harlem announced as next chair of Accreditation Commission of American Alliance of Museums (AAM). Term begins Jan. 1, 2021.
NEWS | Oct. 28: Souls Grown Deep Foundation in Atlanta announces Resale Royalty Award Program providing Southern African American artists represented in its collection with 5 percent royalty from past and future sales to museums, galleries, and through auctions, with annual cap of $85,000 per artist.
FASHION | Oct. 28: British Fashion Council’s Institute of Positive Fashion announces The Missing Thread, a partnership with Black Oriented Legacy Development Agency celebrating British Black fashion and culture from 1975 to present through programs, events, and major exhibition in summer 2022.
AWARDS & HONORS | Oct. 29: UK- based Ghanaian artist Atta Kwami wins 2021 Maria Lassnig Prize. Biennial award for mid-career artists co-presented by Maria Lassnig Foundation and Serpentine Galleries in London, includes €50,000 prize (about $58,300), monographic publication, and public art commission.
APPOINTMENTS | Oct. 29: Franklin Sirmans joins board of Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts. Sirmans is director of Pérez Art Museum Miami (PAMM).
APPOINTMENTS | Oct. 29: In Oregon, Portland Art Museum announces new board members, including Portland-born artist Carrie Mae Weems and Brue McHayle of Nike.
APPOINTMENTS | Oct. 29: Ghana appoints 13-member committee to advise government on “radical” new plan for museums, monuments, and cultural heritage sites, including researching Ghanaian objects held in collections of international institutions.
AWARDS & HONORS | Oct. 30: Inaugural Next Step Award, presented by Aperture and Baxter St and Camera Club of New York, is awarded to Fayetteville, Ark.-based photographer Zora J Murff.
AWARDS & HONORS | Oct. 30: American Alliance of Museums announces winners of 2020 Museum Publications Design Competition. MCA Chicago’s “Virgil Abloh: Figures of Speech” catalog is recognized; “Derrick Adams: Patrick Kelly, The Journey” exhibition presented by SCAD FASH Museum of Fashion + Film in Atlanta is honored in Educational Resources category; and Smithsonian National Museum of African Art in Washington D.C., receives accolades for 2019 African Art Awards program.
EXHIBITION | Oct. 30: Lowery Sims and Leslie King-Hammond guest curate “Make Good Trouble: Marching for Change” at Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History & Culture in Baltimore. Read More
CAULEEN SMITH | Los Angeles-based artist and filmmaker Cauleen Smith wins annual Joyce Alexander Wein Artist Prize from Studio Museum in Harlem, including $50,000. Smith’s imaginative practice is informed by poetry, science fiction, and Afrofuturism. “Cauleen Smith: Mutualities,” her first solo exhibition in New York, is currently on view at Whitney Museum of American Art. | Photo by Dustin Aksland
MAGAZINES | November 2020: Special Vanity Fair on Art supplemental issue features artists Nina Chanel Abney, Nathaniel Mary Quinn, and Hank Willis Thomas on cover.
BOOKS > | Nov. 3: “Going There: Black Visual Satire” by Richard Powell is published, expanding on Duke University art historian’s 2016 presentation at Richard D. Cohen Lectures on African & African American Art at Harvard University.
PUBLIC ART | Nov. 3: In lead up to U.S. presidential election, numerous artists and art institutions are actively engaged. Political season inspires public art projects, information campaigns, and exhibitions organized around voting rights, American democracy, and contemporary sociopolitical issues such as police brutality, the COVID-19 pandemic, 2020 Census, mass incarceration, and immigration.
EXHIBITIONS | Nov. 5: Tate Modern in London presents first major UK survey of South African photographer and visual activist Zanele Muholi.
EXHIBITIONS | Nov. 6: “Sam Gilliam: Existed Existing” opens at Pace Gallery. Presentation is Sam Gilliam‘s first solo show at first gallery to represent celebrated Washington, D.C.-based artist in New York.
APPOINTMENT | Nov. 6: Ralph Remington appointed director of Cultural Affairs for San Francisco Arts Commission (SFAC) by Mayor London Breed. He officially starts in January.
NEWS | Nov. 7: New historic marker in Nashville, Tenn., pays tribute to life and work of artist William Edmondson (1874-1951).
NEWS | Nov. 7: Biden-Harris campaign releases America the Beautiful video inspired by Lorraine O’Grady‘s “Art Is…” (2009) performance work.
LIVES | Nov. 8: Artist and activist Cliff Joseph (1922-2020), co-founder of Black Emergency Cultural Coalition (BECC) who advocated for Black representation in New York City museums dies in Chicago. He was 98.
ACQUISITION | Nov. 10: Edition of Simone Leigh‘s monumental “Brick House” sculpture (commissioned for inaugural High Line Plinth) is acquired and installed on campus of University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.
BOOKS | Nov. 10: “Ming Smith: An Aperture Monograph” is published. Much-anticipated volume documents four decades of New York photographer Ming Smith‘s practice.
EXHIBITIONS > | Nov. 11: Based on exhibition conceived by late artist Ernie Barnes (1938-2009), UTA Artist Space in Beverly Hills presents “Ernie Barnes: Liberating Humanity Within” featuring 29 paintings, primarily from artist’s estate, more than half for sale. Read More | ERNIE BARNES, “An Inner Strength,” 2007 (acrylic on canvas, 36 x 48 inches). © Ernie Barnes Family Trust, Photo by Jeff McLane
MAGAZINES | Nov. 11: Team behind BlackStar Film Festival launches Seen, new magazine focused on film and visual culture, with Radha Blank, director of “The 40-Year-Old Version” on cover of inaugural fall 2020 issue. Inside coverage includes Garrett Bradley, Blitz Bazawule, and Amy Sherald.
ARCHIVES | Nov. 11: City College of New York Libraries completes digitization of CCNY Hatch-Billops Oral History Collection—more than 320 hours of interviews, lectures, and panel discussions dating from 1970-74.
APPOINTMENTS | Nov. 11: The Gordon Parks Foundation in Pleasantville, N.Y., hires Michal Raz-Russo to serve as program director with broad portfolio focusing on new artist grants, fellowships, exhibitions, and publications and expanding social justice initiatives. Raz-Russo was previously photography curator at Art Institute of Chicago.
LIVES | Nov. 12: Assemblage artist John Outterbridge (1933-2020), who served as director of Watts Towers Arts Center for nearly two decades (1975-1992), dies in Los Angeles. He was 87.
< BOOKS | Nov. 13: Lorraine O’Grady‘s “Writing in Space, 1973–2019” is published gathering nearly half a century of writing by O’Grady, including statements, notes on performances and conceptual photography, scripts, interviews, art criticism, and theoretical essays.
FILM | Nov. 15: “Small Axe” series of five films from Academy award-winning British artist and filmmaker Steve McQueen debuts on Amazon Prime and BBC. Set between late-1960s to mid-1980s, project explores experiences of London’s West African community “whose lives have been shaped by their own force of will despite rampant racism and discrimination.”
AWARDS & HONORS | Nov. 16: Architect David Adjaye receives 2020 Isamu Noguchi Award from Noguchi Museum in Long Island City, N.Y., during virtual celebration. Award recognizes individuals “who share Noguchi’s spirit of innovation, global consciousness, and commitment to Eastern and Western cultural exchange.” Watch Event
MAGAZINES | Nov. 16: Portrait of President Obama by Jordan Casteel (“Barack,” 2020) accompanies Jeffrey Goldberg’s article in The Atlantic. He interviewed Obama about his new book “A Promised Land” and state of America’s democracy.
APPOINTMENT | Nov. 18: Yesomi Umolu named director of curatorial affairs and public practice at The Serpentine in London. Umolo had been serving as curator of Logan Center Exhibitions at Logan Center for the Arts at University of Chicago and was artistic director of 2019 Chicago Architecture Biennial.
AWARDS & GRANTS | Nov. 18: Recognizing women artists 40 years of age and older, recipients of 2020 Anonymous Was a Woman awards announced, including Linda Goode Bryant, Barbara Chase-Riboud, Virginia Jaramillo, Karyn Olivier, and Juana Valdés among 10 artists receiving $25,000 grants.
AWARDS & GRANTS | Nov. 18: Andy Warhol Foundation Arts Writers Grants (ranging from $15,000-$50,000) announced in three categories. 2020 recipients include Arnold Joseph Kemp and Oluremi C. Onabanjo (Articles); Jerry Philogene (Books); and Colony Little and Jessica Lynne (Short-Form Writing).
APPOINTMENTS | Nov. 19: Detroit Institute of Arts announces 11 new board members, including Lane Coleman, Nancy Mitchell, Marsha Philpot, Jason Tinsley, and Rhonda D. Welburn.
APPOINTMENTS | Nov. 20: Hammer Museum in Los Angeles announces eight new appointments, including addition of artist Charles Gaines to museum’s board of directors.
AWARDS & HONORS > | Nov. 26: Julia Grosse and Yvette Mutumba, founders and artistic directors of Berlin-based Contemporary And, together named 2020 European Cultural Manager of the Year. Watch Video | From left, Julia Grosse and Yvette Mutumba. Photo by Benjamin Renter
ARCHIVES | Nov. 27: Smithsonian Archives of American Art launches oral history project to capture experiences and insights from artists, teachers, curators, and administrators during period of pandemic and protest. Participants include Mark Bradford, Fred Eversley, and Deana Haggag. Read More
AWARDS & HONORS | Nov. 30: Freelands Award 2020, from Freelands Foundation in London, goes to MK Gallery and Ingrid Pollard, British photographer, media artist, and researcher. Award includes £100,000 (about $123,000 US) to host major solo exhibition of Pollard’s work in 2022.
MONUMENT TO MAYA | San Francisco Arts Commission flip flops on commission won by Lava Thomas to create monument honoring Maya Angelou at main branch of public library. Her winning design is rejected initially because city supervisor Catherine Stefani who authored legislation calling for monument preferred a figurative representation of Angelou, rather than book-inspired bronze installation Thomas proposed. In August, Stefani and Mayor London Breed privately apologize to artist and do so publicly in October. “For the pain I caused you, Ms. Thomas, and the process you have had to endure, I am truly sorry,” Steffani says. In November, commission votes unanimously to reinstate Thomas’s design. Her “Portrait of a Phenomenal Woman” will be first monument to woman of color on San Francisco city property. | Lava Thomas proposal for Maya Angelou monument titled “Portrait of a Phenomenal Woman,” Courtesy San Francisco Arts Commission
MAGAZINES | December 2020: Brooklyn-based artist and filmmaker Tyler Mitchell photographs Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) for cover of Vanity Fair.
BOOKS > | Dec. 1: From co-editors Kimberly Drew and Jenna Wortham, “Black Futures” attempts to answer question, “What does it mean to be Black and alive right now?” Their response is vast volume collecting snapshots from contemporary Black life—images, memes, artworks, many conversations, and all kinds of writings, including original essays.
APPOINTMENTS | Dec. 1: Sophia Matthews Partlow joins The Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture in Charlotte, N.C., as vice president of communications and technology innovation.
ART FAIRS | Dec. 1: Prizm Art Fair 2020, only Miami Art week fair focused exclusively on Black art, presented online given pandemic, via its website and Artsy, from Dec. 1-21, 2020 (VIP access begins Nov. 30).
EXHIBITIONS | Dec. 2: First European exhibition dedicated to Gee’s Bend quilters opens at Alison Jaques Gallery in London, featuring 11 artists spanning three generations from Alabama community.
AWARDS & HONORS | Dec. 2: Ghanaian artist Ibrahim Mahama receives 2020 Principal Prince Claus Award recognizing groundbreaking achievements in culture and development, from Prince Clause Fund for Culture and Development, based in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Watch Video
EXHIBITIONS | Dec. 2: “Fly in League With the Night,” first major survey of British painter Lynette Yiadom-Boakye opens at Tate Britain, featuring about 80 portraits dating from 2003.
MAGAZINES | Dec. 2: London-based Art Review reveals annual Power 100 list, with Black Lives Matter movement occupying No. 1 spot; Bénédicte Savoy, Fred Moten, Arthur Jafa, Thelma Golden, Saidiya Hartman, Darren Walker, Pamela J. Joyner, Steve McQueen, and Titus Kaphar rounding out the top 20; and unprecedented total of 21 Black artists, curators, scholars represented on full list (including BLM and École Kourtrajmé collective, founded by French film director Ladj Ly).
TELEVISION | Dec. 12: On the occasion of his exhibition “SELF MUST DIE” at Petzel gallery in New York, Derek Fordjour is profiled on CBS This Morning. CBS News speaks to a few other artists during 2020, including Betye Saar, Kadir Nelson, and Titus Kaphar. Coverage also includes preserving African American dioramas.
AWARDS & HONORS | Dec. 15: Published to document Deborah Roberts exhibition at Spelman College Museum of Fine Art, “Deborah Roberts: The Evolution of Mimi” receives 2020 Mary Ellen LoPresti Art Publication Award, from Southeast Chapter of Art Libraries Society of North America (ARLIS/NA).
< ACQUISITIONS | Dec. 16: Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth acquires “The Seated III” (2019) by Kenyan-American artist Wangechi Mutu, from series of four works titled The NewOnes will free Us, commissioned by Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York for museum’s inaugural facade installation. Earlier in year, in July, The Met also acquired two works from the group—”The Seated I” (2019) and “The Seated III” (2019). | WANGECHI MUTU, “The Seated III,” 2019 (bronze, 82 7/8 × 37 3/4 × 33 3/4 inches). © Wangechi Mutu, Collection of Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, Courtesy the artist and Gladstone Gallery, New York and Brussels. Photography by Joseph Coscia Jr.
EXHIBITIONS | Dec. 17: “Ruth E. Carter: Afrofuturism in Costume Design” opens at SCAD FASH Museum of Fashion + Film in Atlanta, showcasing four decades of designs by Ruth Carter, from Spike Lee’s films to Marvel’s “Black Panther.”
ACQUISITIONS | Dec. 28: National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., announces major acquisition from Souls Grown Deep Foundation in Atlanta—40 works by 21 African American artists from U.S. South, including nine quilts by Gee’s Bend, Ala., artists.
PUBLIC ART | Dec. 30: Moynihan Train Hall, expansion of Penn Station in New York City, unveiled with art installations by Kehinde Wiley and Stan Douglas. CT
KEHINDE WILEY, “Go,” 2020 (stained glass with aluminum frame, gypsum molding, steel structure, and LED light panel, 17’6” L x 55’8” W x 10” D). | Commissioned by Empire State Development in partnership with Public Art Fund