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Posing Modernity: The Black Model from Manet and Matisse to Today

Wallach Art Gallery, New York


This exhibition reconsiders the history of modern painting, in terms of the evolving depiction of the black model. It begins with a focus on Laure, the often-overlooked maid in Edouard Manet’s Olympia (1863), in order to explore the connections between avant-garde artist groups like the Impressionists and black communities in post-abolition Paris. The exhibition progresses to the 1930s, establishing a comparison between the ‘New Negro’ portraiture style, developed by artists like Charles Alston, William H. Johnson and Laura Wheeler Waring, and the work of Henri Matisse, who made several visits to Harlem in that same decade, painting the dancers he saw in jazz clubs. Finally, the exhibition will consider how the influence of Manet and Matisse can be felt in the work of recent and contemporary artists such as Romare Bearden and Mickalene Thomas. Find out more from the Wallach Art Gallery at Columbia University’s website. 

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Young Woman with Peonies, Frédéric Bazille

Young Woman with Peonies (1870), Frédéric Bazille. National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.

Girl in a Red Dress, Charles Alston

Girl in a Red Dress (1934), Charles Alston. Collection Harmon and Harriet Kelley Foundation for the Arts, San Antonio

Patchwork Quilt (1970), Romare Bearden. Museum of Modern Art, New York; © 2018 Romare Bearden Foundation/Licensed by VAGA at Artist’s Rights Society (ARS), New York, NY

Din, une très belle négresse #1, Mickalene Thomas

Din, une très belle négresse #1 (2012), Mickalene Thomas. Jiménez-Colón Collection, Ponce, Puerto Rico; © Mickalene Thomas/Artist Rights Society (ARS), New York.

Event website