History of Art


Black History Month 2021: Exhibitions & Resources to check out this month!


Professor Bob Mills 

  • Race, Racism and the Middle Ages

Access here: https://www.publicmedievalist.com/race-racism-middle-ages-toc/.
Accessible series of essays in The Public Medievalist, run by scholars in the field, that chart long histories of racism and racialized thinking and challenge misleading perceptions of a ‘whites only’ medieval world.

  • Balthazar: A Black African King in Medieval and Renaissance Art

Access here: https://www.getty.edu/art/exhibitions/balthazar/ and https://artsandculture.google.com/story/AQVx30rgsgazDw.
Recent exhibition at Getty Centre focusing on images representing the youngest of the three magi, Balthazar, as a Black African, which explored the juxtaposition of a seemingly positive image with painful histories of slavery and Afro-European contact. The exhibition ran November 2019 to February 2020 but has a continuing online presence. 

  • Visible Skin: Rediscovering the Renaissance through Black Portraiture

Access here: https://www.kcl.ac.uk/news/visible-skin and https://www.renaissanceskin.ac.uk/visibleskin/.
A new outdoor exhibition at King’s College London, running to 10 December 2021, by opera singer Peter Brathwaite, who spoke in our Department last year about his extraordinary ‘Rediscovering Black Portraiture’ project, in which he restages famous paintings with everyday household objects.


Dr Ramon Amaro

  • Nine Nights: Channel B (Institute of Contemporary Arts)

Access here: https://www.ica.art/exhibitions/nine-nights-channel-b
Channel B is an audio-visual exploration of Black futurism by the Black-owned art, music, and creative initiative Nine Nights. The exhibition features sound and video installations by founding artists Gaika, GLOR1A and Shannen SP. At the heart of Channel B is the live event series New Syntax, which sees each installation act as staging to host performances by Black artists from across the world. Running 12th October 2021 - 30th January 2022. 

  • Sistrens in the Struggle: Black Women in Britain – a Symposium (Institute of Contemporary Arts)

Access here: https://www.ica.art/learning/sistrens-in-the-struggle-black-women-in-britain-symposium
Black women in Britain lift as they climb and have continued to do so for decades with minimal recognition or praise. Their fierce commitment to the collective care of their communities is sometimes to their own detriment. As our carers, educators, writers, activists, labourers and friends – who are susceptible to incomparable racial and sexual abuse – Black women must be vigorously protected and honoured for their past and continued efforts, as sisters in the struggle.Running 23rd October 2021. 


Dr Elizabeth Johnson 

  • Association for Art History: Resource Portal on Anti-Racism and Decolonial Approaches to Art History and Visual Culture 

Access here: https://forarthistory.org.uk/latest-news/resource-portal-on-anti-racism-and-decolonial-approaches-to-art-history-and-visual-culture-2/
This portal contains hundreds of references arranged along subject, themes and media in eight bibliographies.  It provides access to materials on anti-racist, postcolonial and decolonising art histories and is meant for anyone conducting research in those areas in art history or in visual or spatial culture.  It is also meant to support academics in making meaningful change in their departments, their teaching and their research.


Professor Tamar Garb

  • James Barnor: Accra/London - A Retrospective

Details: https://www.serpentinegalleries.org/whats-on/james-barnor/
The Serpentine presents a major survey of British-Ghanaian photographer James Barnor, whose career spans six decades, two continents and numerous photographic genres through his work with studio portraiture, photojournalism, editorial commissions and wider social commentary. Running 30 March - 24 October 2021

  • Theaster Gates: Oh, The Wind Oh, The Wind (White Cube Mason's Yard)

Details: https://whitecube.com/exhibitions/exhibition/theaster_gates_masons_yard_2021
White Cube Mason’s Yard is pleased to present ‘Oh, The Wind Oh, The Wind’, an exhibition of new works by Theaster Gates. Forming part of a multi-venue presentation in London dedicated to Gates’ involvement with clay, it coincides with ‘A Clay Sermon’ at Whitechapel Gallery and a two-year-long research project and intervention with the Victoria & Albert Museum’s collection. The full clay project will culminate with a presentation at the Serpentine Pavilion, London, in June 2022. Running 17 September – 30 October 2021. 

  • Ibrahim Mahama: Lazarus (White Cube, Bermondsey)

Details: https://whitecube.com/artists/artist/ibrahim_mahama
White Cube Bermondsey is pleased to present ‘Lazarus’, an exhibition of new works by Ibrahim Mahama, including large-scale installation, sculpture, collage and film. The artist’s third show with the gallery, the works come together to address the passage of time, the notion of obsolescence and the potential for regeneration. Running 15 September – 7 November 2021.

  • From Here to Eternity: Sunil Gupta. A Retrospective

Details: https://thephotographersgallery.org.uk/whats-on/here-eternity-sunil-gupta-retrospective
From Here to Eternity is the first major retrospective of UK based photographer, Sunil Gupta (b. 1953, New Delhi India) and offers a complex and layered view of Gupta's unique transcontinental photographic vision. This exhibition is available online. 

  • Contemporary African Art Fair 

Details: https://www.1-54.com/london/
1-54 is the first leading international art fair dedicated to contemporary art from Africa and its diaspora. Founded by Touria El Glaoui, the fair has held annual editions in London since 2013, New York since 2015 and Marrakech since 2018. Drawing reference to the fifty-four countries that constitute the African continent, 1-54 is a sustainable and dynamic platform that is engaged in contemporary dialogue and exchange. Taking place at Somerset House, 14 – 17 October 2021. 


Dr Natasha Eaton 

  • Black Greenwich Pensioners at Old Royal Naval College, Greenwich

Details: https://ornc.org/our-story/today/discover/bgp-online/ 
The ORNC’s Black Greenwich Pensioners exhibition explores the hidden histories of the Black Royal Navy personnel, who formed one of Britain’s earliest Black communities when they became pensioners at the Royal Hospital for Seamen (where the Old Royal Naval College stands today). Co-curated by Black British heritage consultant S. I. Martin, this vital and fascinating exhibition looks at the presence and impact of the recorded Black communities that have been resident in Greenwich for over 200 years. Telling the stories of Black seamen, some of whom were volunteers and others who were enslaved or impressed, the exhibition traces their dangerous and unpredictable lives in the 18th and 19th centuries. The exhibition examines the role Black Mariners played in British naval conflicts and the personal histories of prominent Greenwich pensioners such as John Thomas, who escaped slavery and was later returned to enslavement in Barbados, and John Simmonds, a Jamaican veteran of the 1805 Battle of Trafalgar whose descendants still reside in the UK. There will be related workshops and tours during the exhibition. This exhibition ran last year, however there is still plenty of fantastic content on this website for you to look at! 


Dr Hélia Marçal

  • Black British Artists and Political Activism: Public Lecture Course (Paul Mellon Centre, Yale)

Details: https://www.paul-mellon-centre.ac.uk/whats-on/forthcoming/public-lecture-course-black-british-artists-and-political-activism/event-group
The Centre’s next Public Lecture Course is called Black British Artists and Activism and it will mine the rich seam that exists where art-making practices and artworks meet politics and political activism.