Black Power On Gallery Walls

Nell Irvin Painter writes: ‘Given the usual tendency to talk about black art in political and historical terms rather than as objects of art, I felt it was important to see “Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power” in person. I didn’t make it to the Tate Modern in London, where the exhibition originated. I could have waited until this fall, when “Soul of a Nation” will come to the Brooklyn Museum. But Brooklyn is home to artists by the thousands and a museum with a distinguished collection of black art. To me, it lacks the mystery of Bentonville, Arkansas, where “Soul of a Nation” went

after London.

How would “Soul of a Nation”—this very black art made in the 1960s to 1980s—look in a museum situated in one of the whiter areas of Arkansas? The Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, founded by Walmart billionaire Alice Walton, is made up of several attractive buildings, thoughtfully and expensively designed by Moshe Safdie and nestled among hilly woods on the northern outskirts of Bentonville.

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