“If art is to nourish the roots of our culture, society must set the artist free to follow his vision wherever it takes him… We must never forget that art is not a form of propaganda; it is a form of truth.” — John F. Kennedy
Throughout history, art has been created by people for many different reasons and purposes, both non-motivated (no specific-purpose other than a basic human instinct to create) and motivated (e.g., the artist intends to communicate a specific emotion, comment on an aspect of society, or bring about political or cultural change), and works of art have often been controversial for a variety of reasons, provoking intense debate, criticism and indignation as well as influencing new ideas and shifts in prevailing sentiment.
An art movement is art with a specific common goal among a group of artists for a certain period of time (months, years or decades). There have been many diverse art movements during the 19th and 20th centuries, their meanings and objectives explained by the artists involved in the movement or art critics and historians.
In the US, the ‘60s were years of social unrest and cultural change, and contemporary artists responded to the turmoil and addressed the issues by producing creative works of activism. The Black Arts Movement (1965-75), aka Black Aesthetics Movement or BAM, emerged when a group of African American artists were inspired by the Black Power movement to create expressive works of poetry, novels, visual arts, and theater that reflected pride in black history and culture and explored the African American experience as a means of arousing black consciousness. Although it began in New York, BAM spread across the country and influenced a generation of artists.
In Southern California, the Black Arts Movement generated new forms of artistic and cultural expression and the development of community-based arts organizations in an effort to end discrimination in entertainment industries and focus attention on the conditions within black working class neighborhoods.
In her book South of Pico*, MacArthur winner and Columbia University professor Kellie Jones explores how artists in Los Angeles black communities during the 1960s and 1970s created a vibrant, engaged activist arts scene amidst racism and social upheaval. Building on her research and work on the Hammer Museum exhibition Now Dig This! Art and Black Los Angeles, 1960–1980, Dr. Jones, along with a discussion panel including UCLA professor Robin D.G. Kelly, will expand your understanding of the history of black arts in Los Angeles and beyond. If you missed the live broadcast of this event, there’s still time to watch a video recording. Just click/tap the “Watch Again” button or the post located on the video player below ↓
Creative Perspectives – artists reveal thoughts and feelings about their work and living a creative life in this On2In2™ video collection, available to watch free & on-demand.
Find out how you can help with art history research right from home, and discover the life of an artist using a very cool, free to
use online tool “AnnoTate”
Political Change from the 1960’s to Now: Connections Between Arts and Activist Movements by Andrea Assuf (The Public Humanist, Massachusetts Foundation for the Humanities, October 30, 2009)
On Black Aesthetics: The Black Arts Movement by Candice Frederick (New York Public Library, July 15, 2016)
The Black Arts Movement (blacklist.org)
Witness: Art and Civil Rights in the Sixties (Brooklyn Museum)
Wikipedia (Art and Art movement)
*Zeester Media LLC may receive a small commission for a book purchase you make via the link within this page. This in no way affects the price you pay for the purchase.
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Feature photo is courtesy of Pixabay CC0