Skip to main content

African Modernism in America

February 10–May 19, 2024 | Fifth Third Gallery

African Modernism in America features nearly 80 dynamic and vivid works of art created in Africa during the 1950s and ’60s. Co-organized by the American Federation of Arts and Fisk University Galleries, the exhibition explores the relationships formed between African artists and American patrons, artists, and cultural organizations amid the interlocking histories of civil rights, decolonization, and the Cold War. Many of the paintings, sculptures, and works on paper in the show were drawn from Fisk’s remarkable collection of gifts from the Harmon Foundation. Following World War II, this foundation, along with other institutions such as the Museum of Modern Art in New York, Fisk University, and other historically Black colleges and universities, supported and exhibited the work of Black artists, including the important modern African artists Ben Enwonwu (Nigeria), Ibrahim El-Salahi (Sudan), and Skunder Boghossian (Ethiopia). Showing African art in the United States rooted it in the present and encouraged American audiences to engage with African artists as contemporaries. The inventive nature of the works in this exhibition challenges the assumptions of the time about African art being isolated to a “primitive past.” Some pieces took inspiration from early Christian art, West African sculpture, and Nigerian literature, while others reflect the influences of American jazz and modern European art.

DAILY ADMISSION FREE SUNDAYS & MONDAYS 

Admission is free for Taft members, guests of members with guest pass, military, and youth (17 and under); $15 for adults; $12 for seniors. Save on tickets when you buy online. Includes admission to special exhibitions and the museum’s collection galleries. Sundays and Mondays are FREE!

Experience the Exhibition

Enjoy special tours, behind-the-scenes insights, and more during this unique exhibition!

Ibrahim El-Salahi (Sudanese, born 1930), Vision of the Tomb, detail, 1965, oil on canvas, 36 x 36 in. Collection of The Africa Center, New York, 2008.2.1, Photograph by Jerry L. Thompson, © Ibrahim El-Salahi, All rights reserved, ARS, NY 2022, Courtesy Vigo Gallery and American Federation of Arts

Ibrahim El-Salahi (Sudanese, born 1930), Vision of the Tomb, detail, 1965, oil on canvas, 36 x 36 in. Collection of The Africa Center, New York, 2008.2.1, Photograph by Jerry L. Thompson, © Ibrahim El-Salahi, All rights reserved, ARS, NY 2022, Courtesy Vigo Gallery and American Federation of Arts

Frame|Work Blog

5 Must-See Works in African Modernism in America

On a time crunch? Here are five must-see works in our special exhibition African Modernism in America, on view February 9–May 19, 2024. 

LEARN MORE

Workshop | Movement & Music with Bi-Okoto

Sunday, April 28
Sunday, May 12

10:30–11:30 a.m.

With live drumming, this class will teach you the fundamentals of traditional West African dance with an emphasis on an understanding of the accompanying drum rhythms. Classes start with a thorough warm-up, followed by a sequence of movements across the floor. The session runs for 45 minutes, with time reserved for Q&A.  

All skill levels are welcome. Attendees are encouraged to wear tights, loose tops, tank tops; wrappers and lapas are optional. Recommended for ages 13+  Free for Taft members, $5 for non-members. Museum admission sold separately.  

GET TICKETS FOR APRIL 28 GET TICKETS FOR MAY 12

Questions? Contact education@taftmuseum.org

Tour Schedule 

Fisk University Galleries | Nashville, TN 

October 7, 2022–February 26, 2023 

 

Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum | Saint Louis, MO 

March 10–August 6, 2023 

 

The Phillips Collection | Washington, DC 

October 7, 2023–January 7, 2024 

 

Taft Museum of Art | Cincinnati, OH 

February 10–May 19, 2024 

African Modernism in America is co-organized by 

Major Support for the Exhibition is Provided By

Monique Schoen Warshaw

Additional Support Provided by

Grants from the
Marlene and Spencer Hays Foundation
Mellon Foundation
Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts

This Project Supported In Part By

National Endowment for the Arts

Exhibition Sponsor

John A. Schroth Family Charitable Trust through PNC Charitable Trusts

The Sutphin Family Foundation

 

Exhibition Support Generously Provided By

Ellen and George Rieveschl Endowment
Warrington Exhibition Endowment
Chellgren Family Endowment
Sallie Robinson Wadsworth Endowment for Exhibitions

Cookie Notice

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Click here for more information.
Back to top