Debi van Zyl
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Black is Beautiful

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Black is Beautiful:
The Photography of Kwame Brathwaite

Skirball Cultural Center, Los Angeles, CA
April 11, 2019–Septermber 1, 2019

Photos: Robert Wedemeyer

The first-ever major exhibition dedicated to Kwame Brathwaite, a key figure of the second Harlem Renaissance, features over 40 photographs, select ensembles and accessories, and Jazz albums. A lounge area was created so that visitors could browse the exhibition’s accompanying publication, as well as sit and listen to ambient jazz music.

Inspired by the writings of activist and black nationalist Marcus Garvey, Brathwaite (b. 1938) combined his political vision with the medium of photography to effect social change. Along with his brother Elombe Brath, Brathwaite founded two organizations that were instrumental in realizing his vision: African Jazz-Art Society and Studios, a collective of artists, playwrights, designers, and dancers, in 1956; and Grandassa Models, a modeling group for black women, in 1962. Working with AJASS and Grandassa Models, Brathwaite organized fashion shows featuring clothing designed by the models themselves, created stunning portraits of jazz luminaries, and captured behind-the-scenes photographs of the black arts community.

Black Is Beautiful: The Photography of Kwame Brathwaite is organized by Aperture Foundation, New York, and Kwame S. Brathwaite.