Looking back at NY’s leading African-American art museum
A new show at The Carnegie Museum of Art showcases works from the Studio Museum in Harlem
Few institutions have done more to further African-American art than the Studio Museum in Harlem. Founded in a loft on 125th Street in 1968, this Manhattan exhibition and artists space both collects and displays works by black artists, and also offers studio residencies for emerging artists.
Over the years, the museum bought, hosted and supported a wide range of painters, sculptors and other practitioners, including Kerry James Marshall, Gordon Parks, Hank Willis Thomas, Chris Ofili, Kara Walker, Glenn Ligon, and Rashid Johnson.
Now, a new exhibition at Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh combines works from the Studio Museum’s permanent collection with pieces from its own archive, to produce its current show, 20/20, which the organisers say displays “artworks from two museums that address notions of identity and social inequality in art and life across the 20th century and into the 21st.”
The pairing might seem odd; yet the esteemed Carnegie Museum, founded in 1895, originally intended to collect “the Old Masters of Tomorrow”, and sought explicitly to record and preserve the development of visual art in the United States, even if it does have Japanese prints and Austrian furniture in among its trove of works.
Nevertheless, this show, which includes piece dating back to the 1920s, as well as contemporary works by Jean-Michel Basquait and Kerry James Marshall isn’t limited by racial divisions – there are works by white artists such as Jenny Holzer and Andy Warhol on the walls – the exhibition does suggest that the Studio Museum’s one-time outsider status is changing somewhat, as the establishment works these artists into its draft of history.