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Kwame Brathwaite: Celebrity and the Everyday

  • Philip Martin Gallery 2712 South La Cienega Boulevard Los Angeles, CA 90034 USA (map)

Please join us for a gallerist-led walkthrough of Kwame Brathwaite: Celebrity and the Everyday.

For almost six decades, Kwame Brathwaite has created positive images of African-Americans and promoted the beauty of everyday people. Brathwaite, his brother Elombe, and the two groups of artist-activists the brothers helped co-found — African Jazz Arts Society and Studios (AJASS) and Grandassa Models — were the first to promote “Black is Beautiful.”

“Black is Beautiful” is one of the most influential ideas of the twentieth century. It finds resonance today in contemporary political movements like “Black Lives Matter.” Although Brathwaite is well-known for his photographs of public figures like Muhammad Ali, Bob Marley, and Stevie Wonder, what is not as well-known is the history of these images in American culture, and the role that Brathwaite played along with figures like Ali, Marley, and Wonder in crafting black celebrity as a political tool.

An Aperture Foundation monograph “Kwame Brathwaite: Black is Beautiful,” will be released in spring 2019 with essays by Deborah Willis, Professor and Chair of the Department of Photography and Imaging at Tisch School of the Arts of New York University, and Tanisha Ford, Associate Professor of Black American Studies and History at the University of Delaware. Brathwaite’s work is in the collection of such institutions as the Museum of Modern Art (New York; NY); Whitney Museum of American Art (New York, NY); MIT List Visual Arts Center (Boston, MA); The Frances Young Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery at Skidmore College (Saratoga Springs, NY).