Support Hyperallergic’s independent arts journalism.
Think of trailblazing black TV shows, and The Cosby Show immediately comes to mind. But before the Cliff Huxtable, there was Fat Albert, Bill Cosby’s beloved animated creation that became famous for his catchphrase, “Hey, hey, hey!” Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids began airing in 1972, around the same time that other cartoons and animated shows finally began featuring black characters that weren’t all embodiments of negative stereotypes. “It wasn’t until the early 1970’s that Saturday Morning television cartoons started to feature image affirming Black characters with a modern look and positive story lines that delivered culturally relevant messages,” writes Pamela Thomas, aka Sista ToFunky, on the website of her online Museum of UnCut Funk.
The museum, which I discovered thanks to a recent NPR story, is a treasure trove of African-American pop cultural artifacts and ephemera, from Blaxploitation movie posters to black comic books. Perhaps the most extensive is the black animation collection, which includes extensive explanatory texts, YouTube links, and original production cels and drawings. Thomas, who has a degree in black history from City College and is a former art dealer, focuses not just on shows with all-black casts, like Fat Albert and The Jackson 5ive cartoon, but on black characters that popped up in other shows, like Josie and the Pusscats’ Valerie Brown, whom she dubs the “first positive Black female character in a Saturday morning cartoon series”; and the “first Black male superhero character in a Saturday morning cartoon,” Schoolhouse Rock’s Verb (“I can question like: What is it? / Verb, you’re so demanding,” the song goes).
The Museum of UnCut Funk is an internet rabbit hole that you can (and should) easily get lost in for hours. It has no physical home yet, but I can only hope it will one day. In the meantime, Thomas has organized a physical exhibition, Funky Turns 40: Black Character Revolution, focused on black characters in Saturday morning cartoons. It opens at New York’s Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in February, and will travel to Chicago’s DuSable Museum of African American History and Seattle’s Northwest African American Museum afterwards.
The new generation of artists and curators is eager to explore alternative organizations and to tackle current social inequalities and issues.
Her female nudes were extraordinary for the time because she portrayed female sexual desire. Her subjects defied conventional ideals of femininity.
No Vacancy, curated by Jody Graf, will be on view from October 26 through November 8 at the school’s Kellen Gallery in New York City.
Francis made over 10,000 artworks, starred in more than 100 solo exhibitions, and, in the late 1950s to mid-1960s, commanded the highest prices of any living painter.
Brian Blomerth’s Mycelium Wassonii deploys amazing graphic storytelling to share his own exploration of mushroom history
Over a century after Wright designed a workplace that borrowed features from the home, designers are at it again, but who does a homey office really serve?
Art by Athena LaTocha, Wendy Red Star, Marianne Nicolson, Anita Fields, Jaune Quick-to-See Smith & Neal Ambrose-Smith, and more is on view through January 2022.
This week, the National Gallery of Art finally acquired a major work by Faith Ringgold, the director of The Velvet Underground talks film, North America’s Hindu Nationalist problem, canceling legacy admissions, and more.
Sculptures of Oaxacan alebrijes, envisioned as guardians of the nation’s immigrant community, and catrinas, Day of the Dead skeletons, are now at Rockefeller Center.