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Since the birth of modernism, revolutionary movements have been accompanied by equally radical shifts in art and design, from the Russian Revolution’s Constructivism, to the Situationism associated with the incendiary events of Paris 1968, and even Shepard Fairey’s iconic Obama “Hope” poster. The Black Panther Party was acutely aware of the connection between radical politics and visual culture, and the man behind their bold aesthetic style was Emory Douglas, who became the Black Panther Party’s Minister of Culture in 1967. As the art director and designer of the Black Panther newspaper, Douglas’s iconic illustrations captured the breadth of the African American experience and the fight for civil rights with empathy and respect. His work also linked the situation at home with struggles for empowerment and dignity around the world. By giving long overdue representation to those who had been excluded from mainstream media, Douglas became “the Norman Rockwell of the ghetto, concentrating on the poor and oppressed,” as Colette Gaiter noted in 2005.
Opening this weekend at Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions (LACE), Emory Douglas: Bold Visual Language will look at the historical impact of his work as well as his influence on younger artists. Curated by Essence Harden and Daniela Lieja Quintanar, it will feature copies of the Black Panther newspaper and other work by Douglas alongside contemporary work by Sadie Barnette, Juan Capistrán, and Patrick Martinez, establishing a dialogue between two generations of artists focused on social change. It will also include recent collaborations between Douglas, artist Caleb Duarte, and the Woman’s Zapatista Embroidery Collective in Chiapas, Mexico. This Saturday’s opening reception will start with a conversation with Douglas himself, a rare opportunity to see and hear from an artist whose early work retains its power and immediacy 50 years on.
When: Saturday, July 7, 2–4pm
Where: Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions (LACE) (6522 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood, Los Angeles)
More info at LACE.