Black Is Beautiful: The Photography of Kwame Brathwaite

Mary and Charlie Babcock Wing Gallery

ADVANCE TICKETS

Throughout the 1960s, Kwame Brathwaite used his photography to popularize the transformative idea that “Black is Beautiful.” This exhibition—the first dedicated to Brathwaite’s remarkable career—tells the story of a central figure of the second-wave Harlem Renaissance. In addition to his work in photography, Brathwaite co-founded two key organizations: the African Jazz-Art Society and Studios (AJASS), a collective of artists, playwrights, designers, and dancers, and the Grandassa Models—the subject of much of this exhibition’s contents—a creative collective of Black women, founded to challenge white beauty standards.  

Exhibition organized by Aperture Foundation, New York and Kwame S. BrathwaiteThe exhibition Black Is Beautiful: The Photography of Kwame Brathwaite and the accompanying Aperture publication, are made possible, in part, with generous support from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Photographic Arts Council Los Angeles.

Aperture Foundation wordmark
Select Artworks
Kwame Brathwaite, Self-portrait, African Jazz-Art Society & Studios (AJASS), Harlem, ca. 1964; from Kwame Brathwaite: Black Is Beautiful (Aperture, 2019), Courtesy the artist and Philip Martin Gallery, Los Angeles
Kwame Brathwaite, Sikolo Brathwaite wearing a headpiece designed by Carolee Prince, African Jazz-Art Society & Studios (AJASS), Harlem, ca. 1968; from Kwame Brathwaite: Black Is Beautiful (Aperture, 2019), Courtesy the artist and Philip Martin Gallery, Los Angeles
Kwame Brathwaite, Grandassa Models at the Merton Simpson Gallery, New York, ca. 1967; from Kwame Brathwaite: Black Is Beautiful (Aperture, 2019), Courtesy the artist and Philip Martin Gallery, Los Angeles
Man smoking in a ballroom, Harlem, ca. 1962; from Kwame Brathwaite: Black Is Beautiful (Aperture, 2019), Courtesy the artist and Philip Martin Gallery, Los Angeles
Kwame Brathwaite, Marcus Garvey Day Parade, Harlem, ca. 1967; from Kwame Brathwaite: Black Is Beautiful (Aperture, 2019), Courtesy the artist and Philip Martin Gallery, Los Angeles
Kwame Brathwaite, Grandassa Model onstage, Apollo Theater, Harlem, ca. 1968; from Kwame Brathwaite: Black Is Beautiful (Aperture, 2019), Courtesy the artist and Philip Martin Gallery, Los Angeles
Kwame Brathwaite, Carolee Prince wearing her own jewelry designs. Prince created much of the jewelry and headpieces featured in Brathwaite’s work. African Jazz-Art Society & Studios (AJASS), Harlem, ca. 1964; from Kwame Brathwaite: Black Is Beautiful (Aperture, 2019), Courtesy the artist and Philip Martin Gallery, Los Angeles
Kwame Brathwaite, Sikolo Brathwaite, African Jazz-Art Society & Studios (AJASS), Harlem, ca. 1968; from Kwame Brathwaite: Black Is Beautiful (Aperture, 2019), Courtesy the artist and Philip Martin Gallery, Los Angeles
Kwame Brathwaite, Photo shoot at a public school for one of the AJASS-associated modeling groups that emulated the Grandassa Models and began to embrace natural hairstyles. Harlem, ca. 1966; from Kwame Brathwaite: Black Is Beautiful (Aperture, 2019), Courtesy the artist and Philip Martin Gallery, Los Angeles

Events

FEBRUARY 17 · 11 AM
An Artist’s View: Fashion with Nikita D. Wallace
$8 not-yet-members (includes Museum admission), $5 Museum members


FEBRUARY 18 · 4-8 PM
Reynolda On the House
Free


MARCH 2 · 3 PM
Kwame Brathwaite and American Photography in the 1960s and ’70s
Free with Museum admission


MARCH 11 · 7 PM
Our Search for “Beautiful
Free with advance registration


MARCH 19 · 4 PM
The Keeper of the Images: Kwame Brathwaite’s Harlem
Free with Museum admission


MARCH 24 · 11 AM
An Artist’s View: Experimental Photography with Kimberly Varnadoe
$8 not-yet-members (includes Museum admission), $5 Museum members


MARCH 31 · 11 AM
An Artist’s View: Jazz with Musician Matt Kendrick
$8 not-yet-members (includes Museum admission), $5 Museum members


APRIL 9 · 9:30 AM-4:30 PM
Community Day
Free


APRIL 28 · 11 AM
An Artist’s View: Photography with Owens Daniels
$8 not-yet-members (includes Museum admission), $5 Museum members

FEBRUARY FILM SERIES

Listen

In connection with the Black Is Beautiful: The Photography of Kwame Brathwaite exhibition, this playlist includes personal favorites of the iconic photographer alongside songs selected by Kwame S. Brathwaite, his son and director of the Kwame Brathwaite Archive.

Shop

Beginning February 4, the exhibition’s accompanying publication will be available for purchase in the Museum store. It’s the first-ever monograph dedicated to Kwame Brathwaite. Featuring in-depth essays by Tanisha C. Ford and Deborah Willis and more than eighty images, Kwame Brathwaite: Black Is Beautiful (Aperture, May 2019) offers a long overdue exploration of Brathwaite’s life and work.

Educational Resource

This resource is intended to inform educators about the exhibition Black Is Beautiful: The Photography of Kwame Brathwaite, so they are better able to lead students of all ages in meaningful discussions surrounding its content.

In the News

T: The New York Times Style Magazine, The Photographer Who Captured the Beauty in Blackness

“Brathwaite’s lens marvels at the beauty of Blackness on its own terms, naturally.”

Adam Bradley, T: The New York Times Style Magazine

Hyperallergic, How Photography and Jazz Merged to Forge the “Black Is Beautiful” Movement

CNN, Kwame Brathwaite’s Powerful Photos of the ‘Black Is Beautiful’ Movement

The Cut, An Uptown Photographer Who Captured Harlem Life

The Guardian, Black Is Beautiful: Celebrating the Significance of Kwame Brathwaite

Vogue, How One Photographer Captured the Soul of the “Black Is Beautiful” Movement

The New York Times, Uncovering the Soul of the ‘Black Is Beautiful’ Movement

“Kwame Brathwaite helped ignite a global celebration of African-American style and identity.”

Jillian Steinhauer, The New York Times

Financial Times, Black Is Beautiful: the Photographs of Kwame Brathwaite