This article discusses the changing nature of art history when it comes to black British artists and suggests that such history has perhaps moved away from existing to instead correcting or addressing the systemic absences of such artists from British art. This is typified by Rasheed Araeen’s 1989 exhibition The Other Story, the first major attempt to create a broad black British art history, and several other not dissimilar, exhibitions. The article also considers what changes to the fortunes of a small number of black British artists might be deduced from the awarding of honors by the queen and the extension of membership in the Royal Academy to a handful. The article draws attention to the ways in which major London galleries such as the Institute of Contemporary Arts, the Serpentine, and the Whitechapel have, over the course of the past two decades, hosted the first main-space solo shows of black British artists’ work. With so much having happened to limited numbers of black British artists, this introduction suggests that burgeoning scholarship on these and other artists is timely, and that the articles assembled for this issue of Nka are a reflection of this increased attention. Among its concluding considerations are the ways in which much of this new scholarship emanates from US rather than from British universities. Finally, the article urges a “rescuing from obscurity” of important pioneering texts on black British artists.
Eddie Chambers; New Directions in Black British Art History: Some Considerations. Nka 1 November 2019; 2019 (45): 8–17. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/10757163-7916820
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