Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The Image of Black people in Western Art in Europe

I had never heard of the American art project "The Image of the Black in Western Art" until I stumbled upon a presentation of Professor Henry Louis Gates.

According to the website the project started in the 1960s, as a response to segregation in the United States by the influential art patron Dominique de Menil. He began a research project and photo archive called The Image of the Black in Western Art.

The Harvard W. E. B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research presented an new edition coveted five original books, as well as an additional five volumes.

A presentation of Vera Ingrid Grant about the collection

If you want to see images or more information go to the website


The American art project reminded me of the exhibition "Black is Beautiful" in the Nieuwe Kerk in Amsterdam in 2008 about the attractiveness of black people for artists of the Low Countries. It was an exhibition of roughly 130 paintings, drawings and manuscripts from Dutch and international collections.

Very interesting to check out are the short films and tests on the online exhibition. Go straight to the Short films & View test at

Or go to the main page at

What I find interesting about these images is seeing the faces and expressions of black people of centuries ago. Some of the paintings are as detailed as digital photos. The photo above is of Caspar de Crayer 1584- 1669, study of the head of a black man, from around 1631-1635.


A presentation of Henry Louis Gates, Jr., on The Image of the Black in Western Art.


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