Posts Tagged ‘black photographers’

Kamoinge Workshop

Friday, December 18th, 2020

Thanks to Antonio Olmos, a Mexican photojournalist, editorial and portrait photographer based in London and one of the finest photographers working for the UK press at the moment for posting a link on Facebook to a current show at the Whitney Museum of American Art, Working Together: The Photographers of the Kamoinge Workshop.

Of course I won’t be travelling to New York before the show closes on Mar 28, 2021 (nor for that matter after that date, as I generally don’t do air travel for environmental reasons and am unlikely to be offered a yacht trip) but have enjoyed looking at the show online. Should you be in New York the gallery may be open – at your own risk – but you will need to book a ticket in advance.

The Kamoinge Workshop was set up by black photographers in New York in 1963, taking its name from the Kikuyu word for a group of people working together. The Whitney show has around 140 pictures from 14 of the photographers – 13 men and one woman – from the first two decades of the collective: Anthony Barboza, Adger Cowans, Daniel Dawson, Louis Draper, Al Fennar, Ray Francis, Herman Howard, Jimmie Mannas, Herb Randall, Herb Robinson, Beuford Smith, Ming Smith, Shawn Walker, and Calvin Wilson.

A few of the names are familiar to me, with scattered photographs in various of the many books I own, but I’d not really appreciated the work of this group as a whole. According to the museum web site:

Nine of these artists still live in or near New York City. The photographs provide a powerful and poetic perspective of the 1960s and 1970s during the heart of the Black Arts Movement. Working Together also presents an overview of many of the group’s collective achievements, such as exhibitions, portfolios, and publications.

Clicking on each of their portraits links to a video of each photographer talking about their career and work as well as reproductions of their works in the show. The photographers also speak about one of their works in the audio guide and there is a section devoted to archival works, several of which lead to versions of portfolios and publications digitised by the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. And there is a series of installation views

It’s a show of some fine work and remarkably thoroughly documented on the web site. Although it’s always good to see actual prints, in some ways I think the site (assuming you can view it on a decent monitor) is a better experience than the real thing, and certainly less tiring on the legs, as to see it all will take you a couple of hours. I spent so long looking at it all that I nearly didn’t get this post written.

Working Together: The Photographers of the Kamoinge Workshop
Antonio Olmos