Artists: Carl van Vechten, Winold Reiss, James van der Zee, Horace Pippin, Palmer Hayden, Augusta Savage, Aaron Douglas, Hale Woodruff, Richmond Barthé, William H. Johnson, Beauford Delaney, Romare Bearden, Elizabeth Catlett, Jacob Lawrence, Charles White, John Biggers, Robert Colescott, Betye Saar, Benny Andrews, Gordon Parks, Wadsworth Jarrell, Faith Ringgold, David Driskell, Bob Thompson, Aminah Robinson, Gerald Williams, Emory Douglas, Carrie Mae Weems, Kerry James Marshall, Todd Gray, Alison Saar, Henry Taylor, Whitfield Lovell, Lyle Ashton Harris, Radcliffe Bailey, Kara Walker, Trenton Doyle Hancock, Hank Willis Thomas, Umar Rashid, Kehinde Wiley, Latoya Ruby Frazier, Paul Mpagi Sepuya, Jordan Casteel, Jonathan Lyndon Chase, Dáreece Walker, Devan Shimoyama, Cameron Welch
Tell Me Your Story starts at the Harlem Renaissance. In the 1920s, African-American writers, musicians and theater artists created a furor in Harlem, which translated into the visual arts. Today, the richness of black culture is once again experiencing a renaissance. In the United States, African-American artists are more visible than ever. The exhibition places contemporary artists in the context of their predecessors.
'(...) a century of poetry, portrayal of everyday life and the wonderful reworking of ancient, cruel symbols. Dazzling exhibition on poverty, racism and violence' ●●●● (NRC).
Room Overview Tell Me Your Story. Kunsthal KAdE 2020. Kehinde Wiley. Photo: Mike Bink
The exhibition is curated by guest curator Rob Perrée: "Black American artists have many important and many beautiful things to say. They want to be heard. In the Netherlands they have hardly been heard until now. This exhibition offers a unique opportunity to make up for that damage."
'An absolute must for anyone who wants to learn about the history of black Americans over the past hundred years through paintings, collages, photographs and sculptures' (Wed.).
'It is an impressive and grand exposition that involves years of preparation' (de Volkskrant).
Tell Me Your Story is divided chronologically into five time periods: Harlem Renaissance, Post Harlem Renaissance, Civil Rights, Black Renaissance and Bloom Generation. The common denominator among the various artists is the need to express themselves, keeping alive an important African tradition: storytelling.
Slavery has destroyed the oral tradition of storytelling strengthened rather than destroyed. Enslaved people were deliberately denied education because it would make them empowered and rebellious. That prohibition encouraged storytelling and thus the preservation of African history. The stories were passed down from generation to generation.
'Dealing and reckoning or transcending history is the common thread in Tell Me Your Story. (...) For this reason alone, a visit to KAdE in Amersfoort is a must' (The Parool).
Room Overview Tell Me Your Story, Kunsthal KAdE 2020. Harlem Renaissance with Aaron Douglas and several first editions of African-American literature. Photo: Peter Cox.
From the southern states, black Americans migrated north and gathered partly in New York's Harlem neighborhood. One hundred years ago, in the jazz age, black culture flourished there and the Harlem Renaissance was born. Books of poetry, novels, articles, works of art, musical pieces and theatrical performances are evidence of this. The exhibition includes first editions of important books that drove the movement. The covers are illustrated by artists such as Aaron Douglas and Winold Reiss.
Post Harlem Renaissance
The generation born during or after the Harlem Renaissance made the translation to the visual arts. Jacob Lawrence, Romare Bearden, Charles White and Betye Saar depicted the daily life of the black American in their work. They knew how to imbue the poems, stories and texts of their predecessors with images in a penetrating way.
Room Overview Tell Me Your Story. Kunsthal KAdE 2020. Faith Ringgold. Photo: Mike Bink
'Ringgold now also provides one of the highlights of the exhibition Tell Me Your Story, with which the Amersfoort-based Kunsthal KAdE presents the most important survey of black American art ever seen in the Low Countries' (Knack).
The Civil Rights Act of 1964 seemed to be the solution to discrimination and segregation that persisted, despite periods described earlier. But racial inequality continued. Movements such as the Civil Rights Movement, Black Power and the Black Panthers. Black artists also needed and wanted to relate to the issue. The AfriCOBRA group, founded by Wadsworth Jarrell and others, sought an accessible visual language to convey its ideology. Emory Douglas, as Minister of Culture for the Black Panthers, favored a more activist approach.
Room Overview Tell Me Your Story. Kunsthal KAdE 2020. Kerry James Marshall. Photo: Mike Bink
In the 1990s, similar to the Harlem Renaissance, there was a revival of black culture. Its success could be explained from the rise of a black middle class. The American art market collapsed in the late 1980s, and eager, young African-American artists became interesting. The increased interest in engaged art also made them attractive in terms of content. Kara Walker broke through in 1994 with her silhouette installation at The Drawing Center in Soho, and Kerry James Marshall got his first major solo exhibition at the moCa Cleveland that year.
'Don't miss it! For never before has such an ambitious survey been on view in the Netherlands, including masterpieces by Kehinde Wiley, Henry Taylor and Kerry James Marshall' (The Telegraph).
Today, the richness of black culture is once again in the spotlight. In America, African-American artists are more visible than ever. Artists such as Kehinde Wiley, Hank Willis Thomas and Devan Shimoyama are receiving much interest. MoMA director Glenn Lowry calls African-American artists the most interesting artists of the moment. But that interest remains absent in the Netherlands for now. The exhibition at Kunsthal KAdE changes that.
'Anyone who wants to see what art can do for people's self-understanding should go to Amersfoort to see the powerful works of black artists who are still far too unknown here with us' (Knack).
Tell Me Your Story not only introduces us to the core figures of African-American art, it also teaches us how to tell stories and keep them alive. The exhibition will be accompanied by a catalog containing a characterization of each participating artist.Room Overview Tell Me Your Story. Kunsthal KAdE 2020. Henry Taylor. Photo: Mike Bink
Participating artists: Carl van Vechten (1880-1964), Winold Reiss (1886-1953), James van der Zee (1886-1983), Horace Pippin (1888-1946), Palmer Hayden (1890-1973), Augusta Savage (1892-1962), Aaron Douglas (1898-1979), Hale Woodruff (1900-1980), Richmond Barthé (1901-1989), William H. Johnson (1901-1970), Beauford Delaney (1901-1979), Romare Bearden (1911-1988), Elizabeth Catlett (1915-2012), Jacob Lawrence (1917-2000), Charles White (1918-1979), John Biggers (1924-2001), Robert Colescott (1925-2009), Betye Saar (1926), Benny Andrews (1930-2006), Gordon Parks (1912-2006), Wadsworth Jarrell (1929), Faith Ringgold (1930), David Driskell (1931), Bob Thompson (1937-1966), Aminah Robinson (1940-2015), Gerald Williams (1941), Emory Douglas (1943), Carrie Mae Weems (1953), Kerry James Marshall (1955), Todd Gray (1955), Alison Saar (1956), Henry Taylor (1958), Whitfield Lovell (1959), Lyle Ashton Harris (1965), Radcliffe Bailey (1968), Kara Walker (1969), Trenton Doyle Hancock (1974), Hank Willis Thomas (1976), Umar Rashid (1976), Kehinde Wiley (1977), Latoya Ruby Frazier (1982), Paul Mpagi Sepuya (1982), Jordan Casteel (1989), Jonathan Lyndon Chase (1989), Dáreece Walker (1989), Devan Shimoyama (1989), Cameron Welch (1990)
'Compiler of Tell Me Your Story is Rob Perrée, who has been working on the subject as a curator for thirty years. Thanks to his knowledge and network, the KAdE exhibition includes dozens of masterpieces. The result is an overview such as we have never seen before in the Netherlands and that would even cause a stir in the US' (Het Parool).
About Rob Perrée:
Rob Perrée is an art historian, independent writer and curator. He is founder/editor of the online journal africanah.org and board member of CBK Southeast. He has followed African-American art intensively since the 1990s.
The exhibition fits into the America Year at Kunsthal KAdE in 2020. The occasion is the presidential election on Nov. 3, an important moment in a politically and socially polarized country. During the election, in the fall, KAdE will create a presentation centered on what it is like to be an artist in the U.S. during these times. This exhibition is scheduled from Sept. 26, 2020 through Jan. 3, 2021.
Exhibitions during the America Year are subject to a €5 surcharge. Click here for more information on admission prices and opening hours. An additional educational layer has been added to the exhibition via QR codes. Bring a smartphone and earphones to listen to the excerpts. In the absence of earphones, the excerpts can also be listened to by holding the smartphone to the ear.
Dáreece Walker, Made in the USA, 2016. Courtesy of the artist and Mercier collection, Antwerp, Belgium
The exhibition was made possible in part by the Mondriaan Fund and the national government: the National Cultural Heritage Agency granted an indemnity guarantee on behalf of the Minister of Education, Culture and Science.