Riffs and Relations: African American Artists and the European Modernist Tradition presents works by African American artists of the 20th and 21st centuries together with examples by the early 20th century European artists with whom they engaged. This exhibition explores the connections and frictions around modernism in the work of artists such as Romare Bearden, Robert Colescott, Renee Cox, Wassily Kandinsky, Norman Lewis, Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso, Faith Ringgold, Hank Willis Thomas, and Carrie Mae Weems, among others.
European modernist art has been an important, yet complicated influence on black artists for more than a century. The powerful push and pull of this relationship constitutes a distinct tradition for many African American artists who have mined the narratives of art history, whether to find inspiration, mount a critique, or claim their own space. Riffs and Relations examines these cross-cultural conversations and presents the divergent works that reflect these complex dialogues.
Available in the Museum Shop
Beautifully illustrated Riffs and Relations catalogue written by Adrienne L. Childs, with contributions by Valerie Cassel Oliver and Renee Maurer, foreword by Dorothy Kosinski, and statements from many of the artists featured in the exhibition.
Riffs and Relations is the recipient of the fifth Annual James A. Porter & David C. Driskell Book Award from the David C. Driskell Center for the Study of the Visuals Arts and Culture of African Americans and the African Diaspora at the University of Maryland.
Gallery Talks and Tours
Included with exhibition admission
SUNDAYS, 1 PM
45-min. introduction to Riffs and Relations
THURSDAYS, 6 & 7 PM (excluding Phillips after 5 days)
15-min. Spotlight Talk on one work of art in Riffs and Relations
The exhibition is organized by The Phillips Collection with guest curator Dr. Adrienne L. Childs.
With lead support provided by The Frauke and Willem de Looper Charitable Fund, Altria Group, and The Mr. and Mrs. Raymond J. Horowitz Foundation for the Arts.
Brought to you by the DC Commission on the Arts & Humanities, The Robert Lehman Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, Eric Richter and Charles Shoener, Amanda and Earl W. Stafford, and George Vradenburg and the Vradenburg Foundation.
In-kind contributions provided by
A gallery-by-gallery tour of Riffs and Relations: African American Artists and the European Modernist Tradition.
David C. Driskell
Ayana V. Jackson
Jennie C. Jones
Loïs Mailou Jones
William H. Johnson
Janet Taylor Pickett
Henry Ossawa Tanner
Hank Willis Thomas
Vincent van Gogh
Carrie Mae Weems
James Lesesne Wells