200 Years of African American Art Going On Display at PMA

Henry Ossawa Tanner's The Annunciation, 1898.

Henry Ossawa Tanner’s The Annunciation, 1898.

Philadelphia Museum of Art (PMA) will kick off 2015 by pulling from its holdings 75 pieces of artwork by African American artists. The exhibit, called “Represent: 200 Years of African American Art,” is, like its name suggests, a survey of art that spans two centuries and more than 50 artists. According to the New York Observer, some of the oldest pieces in the collection include Moses Williams silhouettes that date back to 1802, artworks by free and enslaved artists and a sculpture by David Drake.

Of the collection, PMA says, “we are mindful of the many anniversaries of the civil rights movement that have recently passed or are soon to come, and are thinking equally about the way race remains a key topic of conversation in the United States today—in politics, society, popular culture, and, of course, the arts. … This is an important moment in which to explore the historic development and continuing growth of the Museum’s collections of African American art.”

Other can’t-miss items among the collection of everything from paintings and photographs to furniture and textiles is The Annunciation by Henry Ossawa Tanner (pictured). Painted in 1898, the work was the first piece of African American art to be added to the PMA’s collections. Fans of more contemporary work should look out for Barbara Chase-Riboud’s Malcolm X #3, a large-scale sculpture made from bronze and fiber.

Represent: 200 Years of African American Art” opens January 10th and runs through April 5th. For more information, go here