Central to the new documentary Black Art: In the Absence of Light is a pivotal art exhibition that debuted in 1976.
“Two Centuries of Black American Art” was the first major show by a Black curator to look at the history of art produced by African Americans. Covering the period between 1750 and 1950, it featured 200 works and 63 artists, with painting, sculpture, drawing, graphics, crafts and decorative arts.
When it went on display at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art in the fall of 1976, it drew unprecedented crowds for an exhibit of American art.
“I think what it did was introduce to America and to the world that there were a tremendous number of African American artists who were finally getting their recognition,” says Sam Pollard, who directed the film.
Speaking to The New York Times in 1977, exhibit curator David Driskell said he sought out work showing “that blacks had been stable participants in American visual culture for more than 200 years.”
— to www.wxxinews.org