A thousand words are cool and all, but the creators behind a new exhibit at Harvard University’s Ethelbert Cooper Gallery of African and African-American Art in Cambridge, Mass., are hoping that visitors walk away with even more to ruminate on.
This fall, Black Chronicles II, an exhibition showcasing never-before-seen portraits of 19th and early 20th century Black British citizens, makes its U.S. premiere at Harvard's The Ethelbert Cooper Gallery for African & African-American Art. The show is curated by London-based arts charity Autograph ABP and produced in collaboration with the Hulton Archive’s London Stereoscopic Company, a division of Getty Images and one of the oldest and largest archives in the world.
“We are not what we seem.” When the iconic novelist Richard Wright wrote those words, in 1940, he was describing the African-American experience. As a stunning new exhibit at Harvard University’s Ethelbert Cooper Gallery shows, the complexity of seeing and identity took its own twists on the other side of the Atlantic when the relatively new art of photography began producing images of people of color in Victorian England.
“Black Chronicles II,” an exhibition of photographs of black subjects in Britain in the late 1800s to early 1900s, will be shown to an American audience for the first time starting Sept. 2 at the new Ethelbert Cooper Gallery of African American Art in Cambridge, Mass.
Rare, striking and never-before-seen portraits of black citizens in Victorian-era England are going on display for the first time in the U.S., and organizers say the photographs have a powerful message for contemporary Americans riven by racism.
“There’s a healing aspect to seeing these exquisite images,” said Vera Ingrid Grant, director of the Cooper Gallery of African & African-American Art at Harvard University. The show, “Black Chronicles II,” opens there Wednesday and runs through Dec. 11.
“We are not what we seem.” When the iconic novelist Richard Wright wrote those words, in 1940, he was describing the African-American experience. As a stunning new exhibit at the Ethelbert Cooper Gallery shows, the complexity of seeing and identity took its own twists on the other side of the Atlantic when the relatively new art of photography began producing images of people of color in Victorian England. In more than 100 photographs, including a striking set that has been lost for more than 120 years, “Black Chronicles II” reveals a mash-up of racist imagery and cultural tropes that in many... Read more about Harvard Gazette: 'Life behind the Pose'
Not all of these images are of the everyday sort, but the fact that so many are seems far more exotic than the subjects’ skin color. We see married couples, men in uniform, a black butler and white maid (with their white employers), two bishops, a Salvation Army major, people in their Sunday finery (there are at least three top hats in the show). The fact that nearly half the subjects are listed as “Unidentified sitter” indicates not just the relative social unimportance of these men and women (the names of the bishops and major we know) but also their ubiquity....Read more about Boston Globe: 'Black and white photographs of Victorian England'