Tate Modern present ‘Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power’ (12 July – 22 October); an exhibition that shines a bright light on the vital contribution of Black artists to a dramatic period in American art and history. This landmark exhibition is a rare opportunity to see era-defining artworks that changed the face of art in America.
In collaboration with Tate Modern, Island Records has responded to the exhibition with a playlist curated by the label’s President, Darcus Beese. “I was lucky to grow up in a home where the politics of the black struggle was discussed morning noon and night and as a result I am very politically aware,” says Darcus. “At Island Records we have always sought out artists who share that commitment to truth in art, to an understanding of the struggle, not just in the political sense, but in our everyday lives. I believe music and politics can combine to become a powerful force for change and for good. Like my dad always said ‘I’m not a member of Renegades, I am a Renegade’.”
The show opens in 1963 at the height of the Civil Rights movement and its dreams of integration. In its wake emerged more militant calls for Black Power: a rallying cry for African American pride, autonomy and solidarity, drawing inspiration from newly independent African nations.
Artists responded to these times by provoking, confronting, and confounding expectations. Their momentum makes for an electrifying visual journey. Vibrant paintings, powerful murals, collage, photography, revolutionary clothing designs and sculptures made with Black hair, melted records, and tights – the variety of artworks reflects the many viewpoints of artists and collectives at work during these explosive times.
Some engage with legendary figures from the period, with paintings in homage to political leaders Martin Luther King, Malcolm X and Angela Davis, musician John Coltrane and sporting hero Jack Johnson. Muhammad Ali appears in Andy Warhol’s famous painting.
This landmark exhibition is a rare opportunity to see era-defining artworks that changed the face of art in America. Click here to find out more about the Music Of Black Power playlist, and click here for more details on the exhibition itself.