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Saatchi Gallery will host The New Black Vanguard: Photography Between Art and Fashion exhibition from 28 October 2022 to 22 January 2023. The show, curated by Antwaun Sargent, features works by fifteen international Black photographers. The exhibition’s primary focus is fashion portraiture that celebrates Black culture and frees the Black figure from photographic histories dominated by a white aesthetic.
The exhibition reframes representation in art and fashion by presenting a new vision of the Black figure. It showcases Black stylists, models, make-up artists and creative directors, bringing a radically new set of references and experiences to image-making. The New Black Vanguard aims to celebrate Black creativity in front of and behind the camera.
Antwaun Sargent, an American writer and critic, curated the exhibition. He explores a new aesthetic of Black portraiture while examining the cross-pollination between art, fashion, and culture in making images. Sargent notes that the artists in the show profoundly reanimate the possibilities of contemporary photography.
The New Black Vanguard presents artists whose vibrant portraits and conceptual images fuse art and fashion photography genres in ways that break down long-established boundaries. The works have been widely shown in traditional lifestyle magazines, ad campaigns, and museums, as well as on their individual social media channels. The exhibition aims to infuse the contemporary visual vocabulary around beauty and the body with new vitality and substance.
The images open up conversations around the representation of the Black body and Black lives as subject matter. Collectively, the works celebrate Black creativity. Seeking to challenge the idea that Blackness is homogenous, the results serve as a form of visual activism delivered by emerging talents creating photography in vastly different contexts.
The exhibition includes selected works from fifteen contemporary photographers and a salon wall presentation of images created by other young Black photographers contributing to this movement. Vitrines of publications, past and present, contextualise these images and chart the history of inclusion and exclusion in creating the Black commercial image. The exhibition proposes a brilliantly re-envisioned future.
Central to the featured photographers’ art is their work with fashion houses, forming relationships that prompt the re-evaluation of the commercial Black image. As part of the exhibition, Sargent presents New Gazes II, a space dedicated to works created in partnership with Burberry. This section focuses on results in which artists have reframed the significance of the Black figure – with a particular focus on the Black creator – as a new ideal in contemporary culture.
As part of Burberry’s commitment to the power of creativity to open spaces and create opportunity, the company is donating to Saatchi Gallery’s Learning programme. The donation will support exhibition-themed activities that expand on the content of The New Black Vanguard. The Gallery will work alongside local community groups and schools across London to provide free workshops, tours and resources – within the Gallery, offsite and online.
Antwaun Sargent, a resident of New York City, is a renowned writer, editor, and curator with international recognition. He has contributed his writing to publications such as the New York Times, the New Yorker, and various art and museum publications. Sargent authored The New Black Vanguard: Photography between Art and Fashion (Aperture, 2019) and edited Young, Gifted and Black: A New Generation of Artists (2020). Additionally, he holds a directorial role at Gagosian Gallery. Recently, Sargent curated the posthumous retrospective of Virgil Abloh, the late artist and designer, at the Brooklyn Museum of Art.
Saatchi Gallery has been a pioneer in showcasing contemporary art since its establishment in 1985. The gallery’s exhibitions provide a platform for young, unseen artists and international artists whose work has rarely or never been exhibited in the UK. This unique approach has earned the gallery a reputation as one of the most prominent names in contemporary art.
Since relocating to its 70,000 square feet space in the Duke of York’s Headquarters in Chelsea, London, the gallery has welcomed more than 10 million visitors. It also receives over 5,000 school visits annually and boasts a social media following of over 6 million. In 2019, Saatchi Gallery became a registered charity, marking a new chapter in its history. Visit www.saatchigallery.com for more information.
Tickets for the exhibition are available for pre-booking. Admission Saatchi Gallery Members Go Free. Tickets from £10. Tickets are available to book now.
Main image: Campbell Addy, Adut Akech, 2019, from The New Black Vanguard (Aperture, 2019). © Campbell Addy