The New Black Vanguard
Saatchi Gallery, London
October 28, 2022 – January 22, 2023
This October, Saatchi Gallery will present The New Black Vanguard: Photography between Art and Fashion, a groundbreaking exhibition featuring 15 international Black photographers contributing to a new vision of the Black figure and reframing representation in art and fashion. This exhibition is a celebration of Black creativity both in front of and behind the camera. Featured works include Black stylists, models, make-up artists and creative directors who are bringing a radically new set of references and experiences to image making.
The New Black Vanguard is curated by American writer and critic Antwaun Sargent who explores a new aesthetic of Black portraiture while examining the cross-pollination between art, fashion, and culture in the making of images. Sargent adds, “This exhibition is an exploration of this generation’s Black image makers who are bringing a fresh perspective to photography. Image by image, they have created a loose global network around their art that powerfully centres identity, community and desire. The artists in this show profoundly reanimate the possibilities of contemporary photography.”
The New Black Vanguard presents artists whose vibrant portraits and conceptual images fuse the genres of art and fashion photography in ways that break down long-established boundaries. Their work has been widely presented in traditional lifestyle magazines, ad campaigns, and museums, as well as on their individual social media channels, infusing the contemporary visual vocabulary around beauty and the body with new vitality and substance.
The images open up conversations around the representation of the Black body and Black lives as subject matter. Collectively, the works celebrate Black creativity. Seeking to challenge the idea that Blackness is homogenous, the works serve as a form of visual activism delivered by emerging talents who are creating photography in vastly different contexts – be it in New York or Johannesburg, Lagos or London. The results – often made in collaboration with Black stylists and fashion designers – present new perspectives on the medium of photography and the notions of race, beauty, gender and power.
This exhibition includes selected works from these groundbreaking contemporary photographers, as well as a salon wall presentation of images created by other young Black photographers contributing to this movement. Vitrines of publications, past and present, contextualize these images and chart the history of inclusion, and exclusion, in the creation of the Black commercial image. The exhibition proposes a brilliantly re-envisioned future.
“The New Black Vanguard means a lot to me. It’s an important milestone in history where the work of young black artists has been curated beautifully and published in a book. It’s a dream for this show to be exhibited at the Saatchi Gallery in London. This represents progress and more boundaries being removed. London is my home, I still remember school trips to the Saatchi! Now we are here, together, telling our stories!” – Nadine Ijewere, Photographer
“Many moons ago, as a newly graduated student, Antwaun Sargent came to me to talk about the experiences in the industry and what’s needed. Speaking about the book he hopes to create, I implored him and said “if only I had seen a book like that when I was younger, a project of profound joy and happiness, that showcased Blackness in its variety in visual media. Maybe then it wouldn’t have been such a struggle for me to just imagine myself as one of those artists.” Now seeing what The New Black Vanguard has done, and its evolution through many cities brings me so much happiness. As I know there is a young creative from a similar background to that of the exhibiting artists that are going to feel seen and feel acknowledged. Who may also feel challenged to create work! So it brings me profound joy and immense pride, that it is also going to be in London – in the same city that Antwaun and I met to talk about said book many, many years ago. This moment in itself feels incredibly full circle.” – Campbell Addy, Photographer