Posing Modernity

Image courtesy Wallach Art Gallery, Columbia University

The Black Model from Manet to Matisse to Today

March 1, 2019

Since 2014, CCL Director Elizabeth Easton has supported curator Denise Murrell (PhD, Ford Foundation Postdoctoral Research Scholar) in her project Posing Modernity: The Black Model from Manet and Matisse to Today. Dr. Murrell’s landmark exhibition opened in the Fall of 2018 at the Wallach Art Gallery, Columbia University. Tracing representations of the black figure from the nineteenth to twenty-first centuries, visitors were provided with new and more complex understandings of race and gender during the rise and establishment of modernism.

As Dr. Murrell explains, “this exhibition explores the changing modes of representation of the black figure as central to the development of modern art. The models' interactions with and influences on painters, sculptors and photographers are highlighted through archival photographs, correspondence and films. The artists featured in the exhibition depicted black subjects in a manner counter to typical representations of the period. The works included highlight the little-known, multiracial aspect of each artist’s milieu…. By taking a multidisciplinary approach that focuses on the connection between the history of art and the history of ideas, the exhibition will study aesthetic, political, social and racial issues as well as the realm of the imagination—all of which is revealed in the representation of black figures in visual arts from the French and American abolition eras to the present day.”

Ms. Easton provided strategic support in the development of this project, continuing CCL’s commitment to countering the homogeneity of many museums, collections, and exhibitions. The show received wide attention, opening to enthusiastic notices in The New York Times and The New Yorker, and travels to the Musée d’Orsay in spring 2019.

Learn more about the exhibition here