Monday, October 8, 2018

African American artists are more visible than ever. So why are museums giving them short shrift?

By Julia Halperin & Charlotte Burns
Installation view of "Howardena Pindell: What Remains To Be Seen" at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. Photo: David Stover © Virginia Museum of Fine Arts.
Last spring, one of Basquiat’s paintings sold for $110.5 million, becoming the most expensive work by an American artist ever sold at auction. Such landmark moments make it easy to assume that there has been a fundamental shift in the way the work of African American artists is valued. But since 2008, just 2.4 percent of all acquisitions and gifts and 7.6 percent of all exhibitions at 30 prominent American museums have been of work by African American artists, according to a joint investigation by In Other Words and artnet News. There are signs of change. Last year, the number of solo and thematic exhibitions focusing on the work of African American artists jumped almost 66 percent (to 63 shows, from 38 in 2016). [More]