‘Sound Vision': Black Contemporary Art Part of Collecting Strategy at Nasher Museum

Durham, N.C. — There is a major attraction at Duke University’s Nasher Museum of Art. “Archibald Motley: Jazz Age Modernist,” presents a rare opportunity to view the 20th century artist’s portraits and vibrant, colorful depictions of black Chicago and jazz-age Paris, dating from 1919 to 1960. The exhibition is the first retrospective of Motley’s work in two decades. It’s a must see. Well worth the road trip.

The experience is amplified by the exhibition in the adjacent gallery. “Sound Vision: Contemporary Art From the Collection” features new museum acquisitions. A great many of them are by black artists, juxtaposing their work and contemporary viewpoints and aesthetics with Motley’s. Recently purchased works by emerging artists are on view with selected highlights from the collection by more established names. There are 37 artists in all. Kerry James Marshall, Carrie Mae Weems and Barkley L. Hendricks are represented, along with Xaviera Simmons, LaToya Ruby Frazier and Njideka Akunyili.

“We are thrilled to present an exhibition of some of the most exciting art of our time,” said Museum Director Sarah Schroth, on the Nasher website. “A story emerges in this exhibition–of our dedication to our curator’s vision and our sound strategy for building a collection.”

Paintings, drawings, mixed media and photography are on view. Upon entering the exhibition, you are immediately drawn to a virtual floor-to-ceiling canvas on the back wall, a dramatic portrait by Lynette Yiadom-Boakye. Mixed-media works by Deborah Grant (“In the Land of the Blind the Blue Eye Man is King” with Bill Traylor-inspired motifs) and Akunyili (a contemplative image titled “’The Beautyful Ones Are Not Yet Born’ Might Not Hold True For Much Longer,” at top of page) open the show. Odili Donald Odita’s horizontal planes of graphic color and works by Sanford Biggers and Radcliffe Bailey, anchor the final gallery.

Sound Vision is on view from March 6 to August 3, 2014.

All photos © Arts Observer, unless otherwise noted

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Installation view: From left, “Take All the Time You Need (Adrienne Hawkins),” 1975 (oil on linen canvas) by BARKLEY L. HENDRICKS; “Tambourine,” 2010 (oil on canvas) by LYNETTE YIADOM-BOAKYE; “Black Widow with Brothers Fighting,” 2008 (oil on canvas) by NOAH DAVIS.

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Installation view: From left, “In the Land of the Blind the Blue Eye Man is King,” 2007, from the series By the Skin of Our Teeth (oil, archival ink, paper, Flashe paint, and enamel on five birch panels) by DEBORAH GRANT; “High Life,” 2013 (enamel and charcoal on paper) by GARY SIMMONS; (with work by DARIO ROBLETO in the foreground).

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Detail of “In the Land of the Blind the Blue Eye Man is King,” from the series By the Skin of Our Teeth, 2007 (oil, archival ink, paper, Flashe paint, and enamel on five birch panels) by DEBORAH GRANT. | Courtesy Nasher Museum of Art

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Installation view: From left, “I Looked and Looked to See What So Terrified You” from Louisiana Project, 2003 (Chromogenic prints, edition 4/5) by CARRIE MAE WEEMS; “’The Beautyful Ones Are Not Yet Born’ Might Not Hold True For Much Longer,” 2013 (acrylic and transfers on paper) by NJIDEKA AKUNYILI.

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“I Looked and Looked to See What So Terrified You” from Louisiana Project, 2003 (Chromogenic prints, edition 4/5) by CARRIE MAE WEEMS.

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From left, “North Carolina Sisters,” 1978/2010 (digital chromogenic print on Kodak Endura Matte paper, edition 1/3) by BARKLEY L. HENDRICKS; “I Looked and Looked to See What So Terrified You” from Louisiana Project, 2003 (Chromogenic prints, edition 4/5) by CARRIE MAE WEEMS.

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“Katlego Mashiloane and Nosipho Lavuta, Ext. 2 Lakeside, Johannesburg,” 2007 (Lambda print, edition 7/8) by ZANELE MUHOLI.

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From left, “Grandma Ruby and me,” 2005 (Gelatin silver print mounted on museum board, edition AP 1/2) and “Self Portrait in Gramps’ Bedroom (227 Holland Avenue),” from the series Notion of Family, 2009 (Gelatin silver print mounted on museum board, edition 1/3) both by LATOYA RUBY FRAZIER.

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From left, “Session Four: Thundersnow Road,” and “Session One: Around the Y,” both from the project Thundersnow Road, NC, 2010 (color photographs, editions 1/3) by XAVIERA SIMMONS.

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From left, “Take All the Time You Need (Adrienne Hawkins),” 1975 (oil on linen canvas) by BARKLEY L. HENDRICKS; “Tambourine,” 2010 (oil on canvas) by LYNETTE YIADOM-BOAKYE.

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“Take All the Time You Need (Adrienne Hawkins),” 1975 (oil on linen canvas) by BARKLEY L. HENDRICKS. | Courtesy Nasher Museum of Art

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“Black Widow with Brothers Fighting,” 2008 (oil on canvas) by NOAH DAVIS.

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From left, “Mama” and “Flux,” both 2011 (Conte and charcoal on hard-dyed paper) by ROBERT PRUITT.

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Installation view: From left, “Levitate,” 2012 (mixed media) by RADCLIFFE BAILEY and “Portrait of the Artist & Vacuum Cleaner,” circa 1981 (acrylic on paper) by KERRY JAMES MARSHALL.

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From left, “Quilt #15, Harmonics 2,” 2012 (fabric treated acrylic, spray paint, and cotton on repurposed quilt) by SANFORD BIGGERS and “Album,” 2011 (stencil ink, basketball trading cards, glue and aluminum) by NARI WARD.

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“Album,” 2011 (stencil ink, basketball trading cards, glue and aluminum)by NARI WARD.

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“Over Here, Over There,” 2001 (acrylic on canvas) by ODILI DONALD ODITA (with works by BARKLEY L . HENDRICKS, LYNETTE YIADOM-BOAKYE and NOAH DAVIS, in the background, at left).

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“’The Beautyful Ones Are Not Yet Born’ Might Not Hold True For Much Longer,” 2013 (acrylic and transfers on paper) by NJIDEKA AKUNYILI. | Courtesy Nasher Museum of Art

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