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Bringing together the work of twenty-eight artists of African descent, Black Melancholia expands and complicates the notion of melancholy in Western art history and cultures. Including new commissions as well as painting, sculpture, film, photography, works on paper, and sound, from the late 19th century to the present day, the exhibition opens a dialogue with traditional art historical discourses around the representation of melancholia.
Black Melancholia pushes beyond the iconography of melancholia as an art historical subject and psychoanalytical concept to subvert highly racialized discourses in which notions of longing, despair, sadness, and loss were not only pathologized, but also reserved for white cis (fe-)male subjects. The exhibition aims to create a generative space for inspiration, solace, and refuge through a presentation that blends new and recent works with pieces from the late 19th to mid-20th century by artists whose careers never reached full recognition or potential during their lifetimes due to systemic erasure.
Included artists are Clay Apenouvon, William Artis, Ain Bailey, Edward Mitchell Bannister, Selma Burke, Roy DeCarava, Ja’Tovia Gary, Cy Gavin, Lyle Ashton Harris, Kenyatta A.C. Hinkle, Sargent Johnson, Rashid Johnson, Valerie Maynard, Charles McGee, Danielle Mckinney, Shala Miller, Tyler Mitchell, Arcmanoro Niles, Otobong Nkanga, Zohra Opoku, Rose Piper, Pope.L, Walter Price, Augusta Savage, Lorna Simpson, Charisse Pearlina Weston, Charles White, and Alberta Whittle.
Exhibitions at CCS Bard are made possible with support from the Marieluise Hessel Foundation, the Audrey and Sydney Irmas Foundation, the Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation, the Board of Governors of the Center for Curatorial Studies, the CCS Bard Arts Council, and the Center’s Patrons, Supporters, and Friends.