Cleveland (May 3, 2022)—Focusing on 15 talents whose works fuse art and fashion photography, The New Black Vanguard: Photography between Art and Fashion opens conversations about the representation of the Black body and Black lives as subjects in art. The exhibition features the work of Black photographers, stylists, and models and celebrates Black creativity and the blending of art, fashion, and culture in constructing an image.
The New Black Vanguard is on view in the Cleveland Museum of Art’s Kelvin and Eleanor Smith Foundation Exhibition Gallery from May 8 to September 11, 2022.
The New Black Vanguard focuses on contemporary portrayals of Black figures and reframes established representational patterns,” said William M. Griswold, director of the Cleveland Museum of Art. “The international photographers and stylists in this stunning exhibition reinforce the significance of the Black creator and model. The show embodies our commitment to the vibrant arts of Africa and the African diaspora, and it foregrounds fashion as a theme central to the work of some of our newest curatorial voices.”
The New Black Vanguard seeks to challenge the idea that Blackness is homogenous; the works serve as a form of visual activism. The results—often made in collaboration with Black stylists and fashion designers—present new perspectives on the medium of photography and the notions of race and beauty, gender and power. The men and women whose art is on view work in vastly different contexts, from New York City and Johannesburg to Lagos and London. They have been featured in traditional lifestyle magazines, ad campaigns and museums, as well as on their individual social media channels.
The exhibition is organized by Aperture, New York, and curated by curator and critic Antwaun Sargent. The Cleveland Museum of Art has added a unique complement to the photographs on the walls that will be seen only in Cleveland: mannequins dressed in fashionable looks created by three of the stylists represented in the show. Arielle Bobb-Willis and Daniel Obasi, who work both as stylists and photographers, and stylist Jermaine Daley have each produced a special look that highlights the important role stylists play in creating the narratives that audiences consume from fashion and photography.
Three museum staff collaborated on installing the exhibition in Cleveland: Barbara Tannenbaum, curator of photography, and fashion historians Darnell-Jamal Lisby, assistant curator, and Sarah Scaturro, Eric and Jane Nord Chief Conservator. The trio notes that “until recently, Black bodies and an authentic and diverse representation of Black experiences have mostly been excluded as inspirations for fashion magazine aesthetics and ad campaigns.” They delight in the way that “the photographs and films in The New Black Vanguard put Black bodies and experiences at the center of fashion images, as well as behind the camera, styling the images, and sometimes also designing the clothing. And the artists in the show challenge the dominance of Eurocentric definitions of beauty, expanding the canon to represent a dazzling variety of skin tones and body and hair types. As photographer Campbell Addy notes, ‘Fashion has always been a barometer for measuring privilege, power, class and freedom. To play with fashion is to play with one’s representation in the world.’”
The exhibition includes selections from groundbreaking contemporary photographers, including Tyler Mitchell, Awol Erizku, Micaiah Carter and Namsa Leuba, as well as a salon wall featuring works by 23 emerging Black photographers. A display of past and present publications contextualizes these images and charts the history of inclusion, and exclusion, in the creation of the Black commercial image, while simultaneously proposing a reenvisioned future.
For more information about and images for The New Black Vanguard, please view the press kit.
In The New Black Vanguard: Photography between Art and Fashion, curator and critic Antwaun Sargent addresses a radical transformation taking place in fashion and art today. In a richly illustrated essay, Sargent opens up the conversation around the role of the Black body in the marketplace; the cross-pollination between art, fashion and culture in constructing an image; and the institutional barriers that have historically been an impediment to Black photographers participating more fully in the fashion (and art) industries.
Published by Aperture, The New Black Vanguard: Photography between Art and Fashion is available in the Cleveland Museum of Art’s store for $50.
The New Black Vanguard: Photography between Art and FashionMember and Public Opening Party
Friday, May 6, 7 to 10 p.m.
This event is SOLD OUT.
Leadership Circle and upper-level donors will receive access to the event and to a private lounge beginning at 6 p.m.
Get a first look and free admission to the CMA’s main summer exhibition. There will be a cash bar, and small bites will be available for purchase; members will receive a complimentary drink ticket. The CMA encourages attendees to dress in creative fashion ensembles. This event is for guests 21 and over.
7 p.m. DJ set one: DJ Fabrizio
8 p.m. DJ set two: Gumbo Dance Party
This event was organized in collaboration with The New Black Vanguard Host Committee. See below for a list of program participants.
Hear three artists featured in The New Black Vanguard—Cleveland-born photographer and art director Adrienne Raquel (GQ, Vanity Fair, and Paper magazine), photographer and stylist Arielle Bobb-Willis (Lil Nas X, Lady Gaga, and Billie Eilish), and stylist Jermaine Daley (Interview magazine)—discuss how collaboration between the photographer, stylist and editor is crucial to the making of the fashion photograph. Assistant Curator Darnell-Jamal Lisby moderates the conversation.
Adrienne Raquel is a New York City–based photographer and art director. Inspired by femininity, soulfulness and color, Raquel’s work is rooted in nostalgia and fantasy while remaining fresh and contemporary. She has worked for Playboy magazine, and her exhibitions include Mickalene Thomas’s Better Nights at Miami’s Bass Museum and Aperture’s The New Black Vanguard.
Born and raised in New York City and Suffern, New York, with stops in South Carolina and New Orleans, Arielle Bobb-Willis has been using the camera for nearly a decade as a tool of empowerment. Battling with depression from an early age, Bobb-Willis found solace behind the lens and has developed a visual language that speaks to the complexities of life: the beautiful, the strange, belonging, isolation and connection.
Jermaine Daley is a New York–based stylist and fashion editor. Pulling from his Caribbean upbringing, Daley has a bold yet refined take on fashion storytelling. His attention and focus on color and textures has been a driving force within his works and has ultimately defined his aesthetics within the industry.
Made possible by the Fran and Warren Rupp Contemporary Artist Fund
Lunchtime Lecture: The New Black Vanguard: Fashion through Empowerment
Tuesday, August 2, 12 p.m.
Darnell-Jamal Lisby, Assistant Curator
Come to the CMA for a quick bite of art history. Every first Tuesday of each month, join curators, conservators, scholars and other museum staff for 30-minute talks on objects currently on display in the museum galleries.
Fashion has the ability to empower communities. Utilizing select works in The New Black Vanguard and the CMA’s collections of American, European and contemporary art and photography, join Assistant Curator Darnell-Jamal Lisby as he connects the way various objects across the museum elicit how the artistic interpretation of fashion can empower or disempower different communities based on context and intended audience.
All education programs at the Cleveland Museum of Art are underwritten by the CMA Fund for Education. Generous annual support is provided by Gail Bowen in memory of Richard L. Bowen, Cynthia and Dale Brogan, Mr. and Mrs. Walter R. Chapman Jr., the Jeffery Wallace Ellis Trust in memory of Lloyd H. Ellis Jr., the Sam J. Frankino Foundation, Florence Kahane Goodman, Janice Hammond and Edward Hemmelgarn, Eva and Rudolf Linnebach, Pamela Mascio, Sally and Larry Sears, the Thompson Family Foundation and the Womens Council of the Cleveland Museum of Art.
Exhibition Ticket Pricing
Adults $12; seniors, students and children ages 6 to 17 $10; children age 5 and under and CMA members FREE.
The CMA recommends reserving exhibition tickets through its online platform by visiting The New Black Vanguard exhibition webpage. Tickets can also be reserved by phone at 216-421-7350 or on-site at one of the ticket desks.
Combination Ticket Pricing
*Includes admission to Alberto Giacometti: Toward the Ultimate Figure, on view through June 12, 2022.
Adults $22; seniors, students and children ages 6–17 $18; children age 5 and under and CMA members FREE.
To reserve combination tickets, visit the Alberto Giacometti ticket page, choose a desired date and time and select the combination ticket option. Tickets to both exhibitions must be used on the same day.
Alberto Giacometti is a timed exhibition, so visitors can attend the untimed exhibition The New Black Vanguard before or after. Combination tickets are available for the days that both shows are open: May 8 to June 12, 2022.
Combination tickets can also be reserved by phone at 216-421-7350 or on-site at one of the ticket desks.
The New Black Vanguard exhibition is organized by Aperture, New York, and is curated by Antwaun Sargent.
The New Black Vanguard is made possible in part by Airbnb Magazine.
Major support is provided by PNC Bank. Generous support is provided by Donald F. and Anne T. Palmer.
All exhibitions at the Cleveland Museum of Art are underwritten by the CMA Fund for Exhibitions. Generous annual support is provided by an anonymous supporter, Dick Blum (deceased) and Harriet Warm, Dr. Ben H. and Julia Brouhard, Mr. and Mrs. Walter R. Chapman Jr., the Jeffery Wallace Ellis Trust in memory of Lloyd H. Ellis Jr., Leigh and Andy Fabens, Michael Frank in memory of Patricia Snyder, the Sam J. Frankino Foundation, Janice Hammond and Edward Hemmelgarn, Eva and Rudolf Linnebach, William S. and Margaret F. Lipscomb, Bill and Joyce Litzler, Tim O’Brien and Breck Platner, Anne H. Weil, the Womens Council of the Cleveland Museum of Art, and Claudia C. Woods and David A. Osage.
The New Black Vanguard Host Committee (as of April 27)
Aimon Ali, Fashion Talks
Margarita Benitez, School of Fashion, Kent State University
Evelyn Burnett, ThirdSpace Action Lab
Sharlene Ramos-Chesnes, CEO, InterChez Global Services Inc.
Alexandra Nicholis Coon, Executive Director, Massillon Museum
Theodore Darden IV
Dr. Tameka Ellington, Co-Curator, TEXTURES: the history and art of Black hair
April Fleming, Co-Founder, LADDER
Amber N. Ford
Deiahna Garner, Owner, Dionejinay Productions
Cindy Beasley Grant, Western Reserve (OH) Chapter of The Links, Incorporated
Archie Green, Hip-Hop Artist; Founder & Creative Director of Culture Junkie Edutainment, LLC
Kevin Chill Heard
Charron Leeper, Wardrobe Stylist, Owner and Designer at Perfect Pineapple
Mychal Lilly, Lenzwork Photography
Savanna McCarthy, Marketing & Advertising Account Executive, Marcus Thomas LLC
Sharon Milligan, Friends of African and African American Art
Stephanie Nunn, Designer/Artist, The Nadira Collection
Sarah J. Rogers, Director, Kent State University Museum
Dr. Shenise Johnson Thomas, Cleveland Public Library
Ahryn Tolley, Buyer, Xhibition/NEXT
Dr. Joseph L. Underwood, Co-Curator, TEXTURES: the history and art of Black hair
Andrea Wedren, Director of Community Engagement, Xhibition
McKinley Wiley, Photographer, The Dark Room Company
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