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Black Orpheus

Black Orpheus

Jacob Lawrence and the Mbari Club

Kimberli Gant & Ndubuisi Ezeluomba
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The first book to feature Jacob Lawrence's Nigeria series, this richly illustrated volume also highlights Africa's place as a global center of modernist art and culture

This revelatory book shines a light on the understudied but important influence of African Modernism on the work of Black American artist Jacob Lawrence (1917-2000). In 1965, a New York gallery displayed Lawrence's Nigeria series: eight tempera paintings of Lagos and Ibadan marketplaces that were the culmination of an eight-month stay in Nigeria. Lawrence's residency put him in touch with the Mbari Artists and Writers Club, an international consortium of artists and writers in post-independence Nigeria that published the arts journal Black Orpheus.


This volume and accompanying exhibition place the Nigeria series alongside issues of Black Orpheus and artwork created by Mbari Club artists, including Uche Okeke, Jacob Afolabi, Susanne Wenger, and Naoko Matsubara. Essayists explore the influence of Africa's post-colonial movement on American modernists and developing African artists; the women of the Mbari group; and the importance of art publications in circulating knowledge globally.


Published in association with the Chrysler Museum of Art and the New Orleans Museum of Art


Exhibition Schedule:


Chrysler Museum of Art
(October 7, 2022 - January 8, 2023)


New Orleans Museum of Art
(February 10 - May 7, 2023)


Toledo Museum of Art
(June 3 - September 3, 2023)


Kimberli Gant is curator of modern and contemporary art at the Brooklyn Museum. She is formerly McKinnon Curator of Modern & Contemporary Art at the Chrysler Museum of Art in Norfolk, Virginia. 

Ndubuisi Ezeluomba is the Françoise Billon Richardson Curator of African Art at the New Orleans Museum of Art.


  • Publisher: ‎Yale University Press (November 15, 2022)
  • Language: ‎English
  • Hardcover: ‎228 pages
  • ISBN-10: ‎0300263171
  • ISBN-13: ‎9780300263176
  • Item Weight: ‎3.27 pounds
  • Dimensions: ‎9.28 x 0.91 x 12.28 inches
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