The New Black Vanguard: Photography between Art and Fashion
The vibrant portraits and conceptual images in The New Black Vanguard fuse art and fashion photography in ways that break traditional boundaries between genres. They open conversations around the representation of the Black body and Black lives as subject matter and challenge the idea that Blackness is homogenous.
Curator and art critic Antwaun Sargent selected 15 groundbreaking talents, including Tyler Mitchell, the first African American to shoot a cover for Vogue in the magazine’s 125-year history, and Awol Erizku, whose work has appeared in Vogue, GQ, the New York Times, and the Museum of Modern Art.
The men and women whose artworks are on view in the exhibition create in vastly different contexts, from New York 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. Since their images are constructed, often in association with Black stylists and fashion designers, the exhibition provides an opportunity to examine the rarely explored collaborative nature of fashion and celebrity photography.
In Cleveland, The New Black Vanguard features a unique addition: fashion vignettes 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 are each producing a special look of their own inception. These three-dimensional installations shine a light on the important role played by stylists in creating the narratives that audiences consume from fashion and photography. They also demonstrate the difference in seeing fashion in person versus through the photographer’s mind and lens.
The New Black Vanguard reinfuses the contemporary visual vocabulary around beauty and the body with new vitality and substance. It presents new perspectives on the medium of photography and the notions of race and beauty, gender and power.
The 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.