Century: 100 Years of Black Art at MAM

Century: 100 Years of Black Art at MAM

February 9-July 7, 2024

The largest of its kind in the Museum’s history, this exhibition celebrates the dramatic growth of MAM’s collection of works by Black artists. Ranging from James Van Der Zee’s historic photograph Black Red Cross March, Harlem (1924), to Nanette Carter’s Destabilizing #2 (2022), the show features the depth, breadth, and variety of art by African Americans during the past century.

Century is organized around six major themes that highlight how art has long been a living, generative force in Black life. We explore the importance of Black Portraiture over the past hundred years and its central role in the project of crafting Black identities while subverting reductive, often racist, portrayals of Blackness. African Diasporic Consciousness brings together objects that work—both explicitly and implicitly—to transmit cultural values, practices, symbols, and philosophies that have persisted and thrived across vast distances from a shared homeland. Archival Memory considers the capacity of objects—constructed, found, or reimagined—to collectively document and preserve this consciousness.

We also consider the languages of Abstraction that have been meaningful tools for conceptualizing both personal and collective expressions best communicated by form and color. Black Mythologies explores how artists use the power of myth and spiritual expression to access histories and memories, imagine possible futures, and mine the complex contours of Black life. Black Joy and Leisure celebrates the construction of unapologetically Black social spaces, where radical rest and leisure are expressed without inhibition. 

Century is curated by Adrienne L. Childs, Ph.D, Senior Consulting Curator, Phillips Collection, and independent curator nico w. okoro, MA. and accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue with multiple essays.

The Museum has developed educational lesson plans tailored for elementary and secondary grade students that correspond with Century. These resources are accessible for viewing and use by the public. Click here to view.

Century: 100 Years of Black Art at MAM

Image Credits:

Emma Amos (1937–2020). The Sky is Falling, 1988. Handmade paper, fabric, pencil and crayon on 4 sheets, 62 x 44 in. Museum purchase; Acquisition Fund, 2021.1.

Romare Bearden (1911–1988). Late Afternoon, 1971. Collage and mixed media on board, 14 1/2 x 18 3/4 in. Museum purchase; funds provided by The William Lightfoot Schultz Foundation, 1979.6.

Dawoud Bey (b. 1963). Smokey, 2001. C-print, 50 x 40 in. Ed. 2/4 + 2 AP. Gift of Patricia A. Bell, 2005.4.11.

Chakaia Booker (b. 1953). External Constraints, 2006. Rubber tires, wood, steel frame, 60 x 72 x 12 in. Museum purchase; Acquisition and Collectors Forum Funds, 2007.13.

Nanette Carter (b. 1954). Destabilizing #2, 2022. Oil on mylar 26 1⁄2 x 28 in. Museum purchase; Acquisition Fund, 2022.14.

Nick Cave (b. 1959) Soundsuit, 2015. Mixed media, 112 1/8 x 49 x 50 in. Museum purchase; Acquisition Fund, 2015.13.

Willie Cole (b. 1955). Stowage, 1997. Woodblock on kozo-shi paper, 56 x 104 in. Ed. 10/16. Gift of Altria Group, Inc., 2006.16.

Joyce J. Scott (b. 1948). Harriet Tubman as Buddha, 2017. Plastic and glass beads, metal, thread, yarn and rocks, 40 x 25 x 15 in. Museum purchase; Acquisition Fund, 2018.15.

James Van Der Zee (1886–1983). Black Red Cross March, Harlem, 1924. Silver print, mat: 16 x 22 in. sheet: 5 x 7 in. Museum purchase; Acquisition Fund, 1996.35.

Philemona Williamson (b.1951). Shore Road, ca. 1989. Oil on linen, 60 x 48 in. Museum Purchase; Acquisition Fund, 2017.13.

Major Supporters
The Mr. and Mrs. Raymond Horowitz 19th and 20th Century Fund for American Art
Lyn and Glenn Reiter Endowed Special Exhibition Fund
The Judith Targan Fund for Museum Publications
Patricia A. Bell

Christine James and Nick De Toustain
Margo and Frank Walter

African American Cultural Committee (AACC)
Dr. Adunni Slackman Anderson, AACC Charter Member in memory of John and Marie Slackman
Linny and Rick Andlinger
Heather and Vincent Benjamin
Susan V. Bershad Charitable Fund

Sylvia J. Cohn

Susan E. Cole
Jeanine Downie, MD and Michael Heningburg, Jr., Esq.
Susan and Arthur Hatzopoulos
Deborah and Peter Hirsch

Wendy and Andrew Lacey
The MC Hotel

Ann and Mel Schaffer
Toni LeQuire-Schott and Newton B. Schott, Jr.
Diane and Glenn Scotland
Jonathan and Sidney Simon
Cheryl and Marc Slutzky
Sharon and Robert Taylor
Robert L. Tortoriello
Sharon and Lincoln Turner in memory of Thomasina Brayboy

All MAM programs are made possible in part by funds from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, a Partner Agency of the National Endowment for the Arts, The Vance Wall Foundation, and Museum members.

Logos for New Jersey State Council on the Arts, a Partner Agency of the National Endowment for the Arts,