January 22, 2010 - Tate Liverpool - Afro Modern
January 22, 2010

Afro Modern

Isaac Julien
Western Union Series No. 1 (Cast No Shadow) 2007
Duratrans image in lightbox
120 x 120 cm 
Jochen Zeitz Collection
© Isaac Julien
Courtesy of Jochen Zeitz Collection

Afro Modern:
Journeys through the Black Atlantic

29 January – 25 April 2010

Albert Dock
Liverpool, L3 4BB, UK
+ 44 (0) 151 702 7400


Afro Modern: Journeys through the Black Atlantic takes its inspiration from Paul Gilroy’s seminal book The Black Atlantic: Modernity and Double Consciousness 1993. The exhibition explores the fusion of black cultures with other cultures from around the Atlantic and its impact on art from the early twentieth century to the present. It reflects on the notion of the Atlantic Ocean as a ‘continent in negative’, a network of cultures connecting Africa, North and South America, the Caribbean and Europe, and traces the real and imagined journeys across the Atlantic from 1909 to today. By placing the work of a range of artists in juxtaposition, it opens up an alternative transatlantic reading of Modernism and reflects how these artists have claimed the language of Modernism in diverse ways, as a powerful tool to explore, formulate and assert their own identity.

Liverpool’s location as a gateway to the Atlantic, and the history and legacy of its involvement in slavery, makes this exploration of Black Atlantic culture pertinent to the city and Gallery. The dispersal of people of black African descent – many forcibly displaced by the slave trade – had a profound impact on art and culture that has been frequently overlooked or diminished. The exhibition is divided into chronological chapters, ranging from early twentieth century avant-garde movements such as the Harlem Renaissance to current debates around Post-Black art.

Afro Modern: Journeys through the Black Atlantic features over 140 works by more than 60 artists including Romare Bearden, Constantin Brancusi, Edward Burra, Renée Cox, Aaron Douglas, Walker Evans, Ellen Gallagher, David Hammons, Isaac Julien, Wifredo Lam, Jacob Lawrence, Norman Lewis, Glenn Ligon, Ronald Moody, Wangechi Mutu, Uche Okeke, Pablo Picasso, Keith Piper, Tracey Rose and Kara Walker.

Afro Modern: Journeys through the Black Atlantic has been conceived by Tanya Barson, Curator of International Art at Tate Modern and is curated by her with Peter Gorschlüter, Head of Exhibitions and Displays at Tate Liverpool. The exhibition is accompanied by an illustrated catalogue with essays and interviews by key writers, curators and artists in the field of Black Atlantic studies and practice including Petrine Archer, Roberto Conduru, Huey Copeland, Thelma Golden and Glenn Ligon, Manthia Diawara and Édouard Glissant, Courtney J. Martin and Kobena Mercer.

On the occasion of the exhibition Tate Liverpool has initiated the city-wide programme Liverpool and the Black Atlantic partnering with numerous institutions and academic bodies in Liverpool and beyond, including the Bluecoat, FACT (Foundation for Art and Creative Technology), Liverpool Philharmonic Hall, Metal, Walker Art Gallery, Writing on the Wall, Kuumba Imani Millennium Centre and Liverpool University.

Supported by Liverpool City Council with additional funding from Tate International Council, Tate Liverpool Members and a range of other supporters.

Director Christoph Grunenberg
Curators Tanya Barson & Peter Gorschlüter
Opening Hours – Tuesday – Sunday 10.00 – 17.50

Tate Liverpool
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