Soul of a Nation at the Tate Modern


Politically charged Tate Modern’s new Exhibition “Soul of a Nation” is currently on display until the 22nd October bringing together, from various parts of the World, 150 pieces of “black art”.

Definitely one of the must-see exhibitions of the Year, it displays works that have been created during 20 years (from 1963 to 1983) of raw Political times that created a strong emotional impact on the black lives by looking back at American Black Art in the Age of Civil Rights Movements.

Benny Andrews
Benny Andrews Did the bear sit under the tree. Photo Credits Tate. From the Collection Estate of Benny Andrews

Each of the 12 rooms focuses on an urban artists’ group or kind of art, with artists such as Barkley Hendricks, Romare Bearden and Lorraine O’Grady with the aim of looking at different artists’ groups throughout America.

It starts, firstly with the Spiral Group – a group of African American artists –  in New York and with the March on Washington (when Marthin Luther King gave a speech at a crowd of 200,000 people) and ends with a performance by Lorraine O’Grady.

This exhibition makes you wonder what meant to be a black artist during that period of controversy, but also, what forms of art would have made the right impact by giving – at the same time – complete and full freedom of expression. Whether the chosen medium was music or abstract works or paintings, it must have been absolutely hard to communicate freely and being listened to at the same time.

As an example, AfriCOBRA (the African Commune of Bad Relevant Artists), that formed in Chicago in the late 1960s, who made portraits of Malcolm X, incorporated text from his speeches.

“This exhibition traces the aspiration – in an incredible, heart-wrenching way – of what represented black America in the following two decades as King’s dream gave way to disillusion.”

Below an inspirational playlist that you can listen to on your way to the exhibition 🙂

MARK GODFREY is the senior curator of Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power is co-curated by Mark Godfrey and Zoe Whitley, with assistant curator Priyesh Mistry.


Tate Modern


12 July – 22 October 2017


£16.50FREE for Members

Adult £16.50 (without donation £15)


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