Over the next two weeks, ESSENCE will present TWENTY—Three digital exhibitions that I have organized celebrating excellence in the worlds of theater, art and fashion. These galleries tell the stories of people of color who made a commitment to the faith and paved the way for next generations of artists and designers. I believe that it is only by recognizing our triumphs that we see what is possible and dream of the future. Success acts as an inspiration that propels us forward.
In my bestseller, Supreme models: iconic black women who revolutionized fashion, I propose that black models be the precursors of societal change. Every time a color model breaks through, she redefines the standards of beauty. Everyone knows Iman, Naomi, and Tyra, but what about activist Bethann Hardison, trailblazer Helen Williams, and forever muse Karen Alexander? Or the new “It Girls” Adut Akech, Imaan Hammam and Dilone which ignites the international catwalks and the pages of the best fashion magazines with their modern multicultural beauty. I want to introduce you TWENTY MODELS TO KNOW.
TWENTY LEGENDARY ACTRESSES is a group of women whose work continues to redefine the worlds of film, television and theater. It’s not about who’s the best. We’ll leave that at the Oscars, Emmys, and Tonys. It’s about the lasting impact of these women. This list of icons like Josephine Baker, Dorothy Dandridge and Cicely Tyson, as well as young legends Halle Berry, Viola Davis and Regina King, are women who have made an indelible impact on the world through their talent and using their voices. to play social change.
And finally, with the temperatures dropping, the constant need for social distancing, and the holidays just around the corner, I’m going to present the fanciest book list of all time! 20 ESSENTIAL ART BOOKS FROM A TO Z lists books that celebrate all areas of excellence within the black diaspora. From visual celebrations of the life and work of celebrities Pharrell Williams and Rihanna to a celebration of the noir style in Brown bohemians and Dandy Lion. From the work of legendary photographers like Kwame Brathwaite, Gordon Parks and Kehinde Wiley and beautiful depictions of black people in art and fashion in Supreme models, The new black avant-garde To Ebony: Covering black America. These books celebrate the beauty and diversity of the black race. These are the gifts that keep on giving!
I couldn’t be more thrilled to contribute these lists of my favorite things to a magazine as historic as ESSENCE. As a child, I read my mother’s ESSENCE magazines cover to cover, breathing in the beauty and wonder of the Black experience. I found inspiration in the pages of ESSENCE. I hope these galleries will do the same for a new generation of readers.
See below for my third curated digital exhibition:
TWENTY ESSENTIAL ART BOOKS FROM A TO Z
Brown Bohemians: Honoring the Light and Magic of Our Creative Community, by Vanessa Coore Vernon and Morgan Ashley
Brown bohemians captures the essence and voice of an under-represented demographic: the creatives of color. Inspired by their tastes and unique experiences in fashion, lifestyle and art, Brown bohemians brings this point of view to print.
Dandy Lion: The Black Dandy and Street Style, by Shantrelle P. Lewis
Dandy Lion celebrates the individual dandy personalities, designers, tailors, movements and events that define contemporary dandyism. Throughout the book, self-expression is communicated through personal style, clothing, shoes, hats, and arrogance.
Ebony: Covering Black America, by Lavaille Lavette
To be released in February 2021, this volume celebrates the iconic magazine’s rich history, glamorous covers, groundbreaking cultural impact, and authentic coverage of the lives of black Americans from its inception to the present day.
I can make you feel good, by Tyler Mitchell
I can make you feel alright is a 206-page celebration of photographer Tyler Mitchell’s distinctive vision of a dark utopia. The cheerful collection of images continues Mitchell’s exploration of a new black aesthetic. This journey, characterized by its use of incandescent natural light, bathes its community with optimism and hope.
I Too Sing America: The Harlem Renaissance at 100, by Wil Haygood
I too sing about America offers a major investigation into the visual art and material culture of the revolutionary movement one hundred years after the emergence of the Harlem Renaissance as a creative force at the end of WWI. The book sheds light on the era through paintings, engravings, photographs, sculptures and contemporary documents.
Invisible Man: Gordon Parks and Ralph Ellison in Harlem, by Michal Raz-Russo
Photographer Gordon Parks and writer Ralph Ellison collaborated on two historic photographic essays, “Harlem Is Nowhere” from 1948 and “A Man Becomes Invisible” from 1952. Invisible Man is the first publication of Parks and Ellison’s collaboration on these two projects. This book offers an in-depth look at the artists’ shared vision of black life in America.
While we were still recovering from him tearing our edges at the Brooklyn Museum in 2015, Wiley became the first openly gay black artist to paint a presidential portrait with his royal portrait of President Obama in 2018.
Kwame Brathwaite: Black is Beautiful, by Kwame S. Brathwaite
In the late 1950s and throughout the 1960s, Kwame Brathwaite used his photography to popularize the political slogan “Black Is Beautiful”. This monograph, the very first dedicated to Brathwaite’s remarkable career, tells the story of a key but little-known figure of Harlem’s Second Renaissance.
Noemie. Edition updated by Josh Baker
Originally published in a signed collector’s edition of 1000 copies, this book brings together the best of Naomi Campbell’s portfolio in one updated unlimited XL edition. It features photographs by Richard Avedon, Steven Meisel, Helmut Newton, Herb Ritts, Ellen von Unwerth and Bruce Weber.
The new black avant-garde: photography between art and fashion, by Antwaun Sargent
The new black avant-garde presents fifteen black artists whose vibrant portraits and conceptual imagery merge the genres of art and fashion photography in a way that shatters long-established boundaries.
Pharrell: A fish doesn’t know it’s wet by Pharrell
This volume documents the continuing adventures in art and design of one of the most influential figures in contemporary music and popular culture. Extensively illustrated with 250 photographs and illustrations, this book presents the prolific work of Pharrell Williams in a graphic language all of its own.
Rihanna’s Book by Rihanna
Rihanna invites you into her world with this stunning visual autobiography. “It’s a work of art I’m really proud of…” – Rihanna
Separating the Cinema: The First 100 Years of Black Posters by John Kisch and Tony Nourmand
This volume is a celebration of the first 100 years of film noir poster art. These images tell the diverse and historical journey of the black film industry from the early days of Hollywood to the present day, accompanied by an afterword from director Spike Lee.
Street Culture by Seleen Saleh
Street culture is a stunning collection of photographs depicting men and women of color exhibiting a unique style. Seleen Saleh’s photos reveal the individuality, fearlessness and creativity of the most dynamic beings who collectively represent the style of the street.
Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Dark Power by Mark Godfrey and Zoe Whitley
The soul of a nation reviews 1963-1983, the pivotal period in American art history, highlighting previously overlooked histories of 20th century black artists including Sam Gilliam, Jack Whitten, David Hammons, Barkley L. Hendricks, Senga Nengudi, Noah Purifoy, Faith Ringgold, Betye Saar, Charles White and Frank Bowling.
Supreme Models: Iconic Black Women Who Revolutionized Fashion by Marcellas Reynolds
The very first art book celebrating the best black models, filled with revealing essays, interviews and stunning photographs detailing their most memorable covers and editorials. Supreme models presents more than 70 women from the last 75 years.
Through the African-American Lens: Double Exposure by the National Museum of African-American History and Culture
Through the African American lens is a collection of photographs revealing how African Americans have used activism, community, and culture to fight for social justice and create better lives. With fifty photographs by famous photographers such as Spider Martin, Gordon Parks, Ernest C. Withers, Wayne F. Miller and Henri Cartier-Bresson.
Invisible: Unpublished Black History From The New York Times Photographic Archives by Dana Canedy
Hundreds of breathtaking images of black history have long been buried in The New York Times archives. None of them have been posted by The temperature-until now. Invisible discover these unseen photographs and tell the stories behind them.
Woman of Color by LaTonya Yvette
LaTonya Yvette, the blogger and stylist behind the eponymous site, is unabashedly about life’s trials, including motherhood, love, death and racism. His first book, woman of color, is part memory, part lifestyle guide, filled with moving essays, wonderful original and archival photographs, and practical style and beauty tips.
Young, Gifted and Black: A New Generation of Artists by Antwaun Sargent
What is new, now and in the future, among contemporary black artists? Edited by Antwaun Sargent (author of The new black avant-garde), Young, talented and black draws on this collection to shed new light on contemporary artists of African origin.