Sam Pollard Black art documentary

Black artists are missing from our art museums, our galleries, our exhibitions. In the major art museum’s collections in the United States, according to filmmaker Sam Pollard, 85 percent of artists are white. Only a tiny fraction of that, 1.2 percent of artists, are black. The art was there, black artists were making, but it wasn’t hung on those white walls, under those spotlights. That’s the light Pollard intends to shine with his new documentary, Black Art: In the Absence of Light.

“We always were represented in music,” Pollard said, “but not movies, not in the arts, so now it’s an opportunity to see that. … as great as some of these artists are that we learned about when I was a young man, there was a group of (Black) great artists that still existed around that same time. And there’s a group of great artists in the 21st century, African-American artists, that are definitely on the rise of being recognized. It’s important.”

Pollard’s film begins with the work of his predecessor, art historian David Driskell and his show Two Centuries of Black American Art, which was made in the 1970s and covered Black American art from 1750 until 1975. It moves on to highlight important artists since then, landing its focus briefly on Sherald and Kehinde Wiley, the couple who painted the official White House portrait of President Barack Obama.

“A Black artist is going to see [the Obamas], really see them, and not in a way that a white artist would. That’s why they were selected,” Pollard said. “They had to have a Black artist who understood who they were, who could see them, who could understand how to present them.”

Black Art: In the Absence of Light premiered on Tuesday, February 9th streaming by HBO for Black History Month.

Source: Africa News

Editorial credit: Ovidiu Hrubaru /