“FROM OBJECTS AND SUBJECTS OF ECONOMIC CAPITAL TO ​CREATORS, DEVELOPERS AND DEFINERS OF CULTURAL CAPITAL”: The Black Presence in the National Gallery

Monday 14 May 2018, 11:00 AM – 12:30 PM @ The National Gallery, Trafalgar Square, London WC2N 5DN

From Objects & Subjects to Creators. Black Images at the National Gallery:

The ‘Image of the Black in London Galleries’ (IBLG) is an attempt to highlight the black presence to be found in the national art collection in London. The National Gallery is one of the world’s greatest collection of European art. Hidden in its collection of over 2,500 works there are black presences most times hidden. Michael Ohajuru will take you round the Gallery introducing you to many different works of art revealing the black presence to you.

You’ll be introduced to the religious, cultural and social significance of the often hidden black presence in the works on display at the National Gallery in London, by the end of each tour, you’ll be able analyse the black presence in other pictures. The black presence takes different forms: from subjects of economic capital to creators of cultural capital; explicit and implicit; musicians, kings, slaves, servants, saints and artists, sometimes just as people. We’ll be look at many different works of art to show you those various presences.

There is a black presence in many of the works in the nation’s collection. That presence takes many different forms; blacks are depicted as musicians, as kings, as slaves, as servants, as saints and sometime just as people and as artist in their own right. The Black Presence is most cases it is explicit though not immediately and sometimes the presence has to teased out, IBLG seeks to make that presence better known.

The image of the Black in London Galleries was inspired by three things:

  1. The Image of the Black in Western Art – The Image of the Black in Western Art is the seminal multi volume work of images of people of African descent from early Greek to the current day, it was a attempt by an American philanthropist to address the absence of the black figure in Western canonical art at time of racial unrest and injustice. It continues to be updated; the latest volume (2017) addresses Asian and African art.
  2. Temi Odumosu’s work at the National Gallery – Temi produced a list of all the works in the National Gallery’s collection she could find which had a black presence. That list was available at the information desk and on line, both are now (2017) sadly no longer available. That deleted web presence now can be reached via the ‘WayBack’ machine here.
  3. Art Historical London – I was asked by Art Historical London (April 2017) to give a tour of the black presence in a London national collection. Up to that time (thanks to Janet Browne at the V&A  I had worked on the black presences in the Victoria and Albert museum To deliver the National Gallery talk as required I had to expand my database of images which is presented here as IBLG.
For more information email Michael Ohajuru: imageOfTheBlack@gmaill.com
£11 tickets available from Eventbrite