the studio museum in harlem

According to scholars, one in four cowboys in Texas during the golden age of westward expansion was black; many others were Mexican, mestizo, or Native American—a far more diverse group than Hollywood stereotypes would suggest.

The photos in an exciting new exhibit, “Black Cowboy,” at the Studio Museum in Harlem, suggest that that many common conceptions of what an iconic American looks like are wrong. Read more about the exhibit, and see more photos here. 

David Hammons (b. 1943) is an African-American artist from New York City. Among his works, which are often inspired by the civil rights and Black Power movements, one of the best known is the “African American Flag”, which he designed in 1990 by recoloring the U.S. national flag in the Garvey colors (red, black, and green of the Pan-African flag). The flag is a part of the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art, New York, and a copy is hoisted at the entrance to the Studio Museum in Harlem, a New York museum devoted to the art of African-Americans.

Barkley L. Hendricks - “Lawdy Mama” (1969, pan de oro y óleo sobre lienzo, 136 x 92 cm, The Studio Museum in Harlem, Nueva York)

Un cuadro precioso, ¿verdad? Es una de las obras más conocidas del pintor norteamericano Barkley L. Hendricks (Philadelphia, 1948) que se hizo famoso por sus retratos urbanos de los años 60 y 70. Suelen estar protagonizados por hombres y mujeres afroamericanos, pintados a tamaño natural, a quienes retrata normalmente sobre fondos lisos para dar más fuerza visual a las figuras. En este caso, ha utilizado un fondo dorado, clavadito al que usaban los artistas italianos del Trecento cuando tenían que pintar una Madonna. La gravedad de la chica, con una expresión en el rostro que no deja traslucir nada, y el hecho de que esté retratada de frente, la asemeja a esas antiguas vírgenes renacentistas. El espectacular peinado afro sustituye al halo. El resto es todo moderno, el vestido de rayas de cuello alto, la postura casual, la técnica casi fotográfica… Pero esta mezcla de clásico y contemporáneo no desentona, funciona bien, resulta muy atractiva. Una mujer corriente, con nombre y apellidos, como las que te podías encontrar paseando por la calle, trabajando en una oficina o bailando en la discoteca, en pie de igualdad con los personajes sagrados y eternos de las pinturas antiguas. 

Alma Thomas
Apollo 12 “Splash Down,” 1970

Alma Thomas focused on her artistic career after retiring as a school teacher at the age of 69.  She was the first black woman to have a solo show at the Whitney Museum. 

Via The New Yorker – 

At the time of her solo show,1972, [Thomas] told the New York Times, “One of the things we couldn’t do was go into museums, let alone think of hanging our pictures there.” She added, “Look at me now.”

A current exhibition of her work is at the Studio Museum in Harlem and runs through October 30th. 

Henry Louis Gates Jr. and Margo Jefferson are two of the finest intellectuals in our country today. Gates, a MacArthur Fellow, and Jefferson, a Pulitzer-Prize winner, share a deep interest in Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin. In 2006, Gates and Jefferson sat down at the Library for a special event on the novel co-presented with The Studio Museum in Harlem. While initially praised by the likes of Frederick Douglass, its eponymous character has also at times been linked with an insulting vision of black masculinity and, more recently, has been recuperated by some feminist scholars. For this week’s episode of the New York Public Library Podcast, we’re proud to present Henry Louis Gates Jr. and Margo Jefferson discussing the myriad ways of understanding Uncle Tom’s Cabin.


Peter Schjeldahl on Stanley Whitney’s first solo museum show at the Studio Museum in Harlem:

It’s as if, for each painting, Whitney had climbed a ladder and then kicked it away. A viewer on the ground can only wonder how he got up there. A picture’s dynamics may seem about to resolve in one way: heraldically flat, for example. But blink, and the shapes swarm in and out—a Cubistic fire drill. 


This museum is located at 144 West 125th street in the neighboorhood of Harlem. It is an american comtemporary art museum which is devoted to the work of African-Americans artists of the 19th and 20th centuries. The museum’s mission is to collect, preserve and interpret the art of African-Americans and the African diaspora.

the true beauty of venice was stumbling across intimate public talks such as this one. after leaving the UAE pavilion, i saw thelma golden of the studio museum harlem in conversation with director steve mcqueen. there were a few audience members sat on a park bench which allowed me to stand back and take everything in.

steve was talking about his short film ‘ashes’ which was being screened just a few metres away. ‘ashes’ revolves around discarded footage shot in grenada by himself and cinematographer robert muller in 2002. mcqueen returned to grenada 10 years later to discover the young protagonist, ashes, was killed in a brutal murder. the footage is then used interspersed with dialogue from those who knew ashes to cast a sombre light on images which outwardly seem almost dreamlike.  

the most important takeaway was to revive those untold stories, and to make sure the past is recorded and remembered through whichever medium necessary, lest our stories be told by those who don’t truly know enough to do them justice. a beautiful 15 minutes of quiet conversation and contemplation before everyone disappeared in search of the next piece of art to digest.


Work that I did for the Studio Museum’s “HARLEM POSTCARDS” show. They selected the Luke Cage poster. It’s called “A Cage in Harlem”.


18 Museums in New York City Pair Off for a #MuseumInstaSwap

Check out the #MuseumInstaSwap hashtag on Instagram to learn more about the project.

JiaJia Fei, digital director at the Jewish Museum (@thejewishmuseum) in New York City, has visited the Studio Museum in Harlem (@studiomuseum) many times, but a recent trip was for the #MuseumInstaSwap: 18 museums in New York paired off and spent time with each other’s collections, taking photos with their own communities in mind and posting them throughout the day on February 2. Organized by the Intrepid Museum (@intrepidmuseum) and inspired by the first swap led by the Wellcome Collection (@wellcomecollection), the initiative offers a fresh perspective on each museum as well as a broader audience for all. At the Studio Museum, JiaJia (@vajiajia) took photos of pieces capturing its spirit, such as Glenn Ligon’s iconic work “Give us a Poem,” a light installation blinking the words “me, we.” “Though the mission of both institutions is dedicated to art seen through a specific lens, these are ultimately museums for people of all backgrounds,” says JiaJia. “We were able to connect all of our voices and audiences online, worldwide, for a single day.”