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In the 1980s – at the height of Thatcherism and in the wake of civil unrest and rioting in a number of British cities – the Black Arts Movement burst onto the British art scene with breathtaking intensity, changing the nature and perception of British culture irreversibly.

This richly illustrated volume presents a history of that movement. It brings together in a lively dialogue leading artists, curators, art historians and critics, many of whom were actively involved in the Black Arts Movement.

Thirteen original essays combine cultural theory with anecdote and experience, and the collection debates how the work of the black British artists of the 1980s might be viewed historically. The book includes a unique catalogue of images, an extensive list of suggested readings, and a descriptive timeline situating the movement vis-à-vis relevant artworks and films, exhibitions, cultural criticism, and political events from 1960 to 2000.

Contributors: Stanley Abe, Jaward Al-Nawab, Rasheed Araeen, David A. Bailey, Adelaide Bannerman, Ian Baucom, Dawould Bey, Sonia Boyce, Allan deSouza, Jean Fisher, Stuart Hall, Lubaina Himid, Naseem Khan, susan pui san lok, Kobena Mercer, Yong Soon Min, Keith Piper, Zineb Sedira, Gilane Tawadros, Leon Wainwright, Judith Wilson


What people say

'Shades of Black is an invaluable text for anyone and everyone in diaspora studies, cultural studies, and comparative British and American studies and for historians and critics of visual art...' Hazel V. Carby
'The explosion of creativity and the critical debates on black culture that emerged in Britain in the 1980s transformed reigning assumptions about black art around the world. This collection is an important effort to assess the work of that period and its lasting impact.' Coco Fusco
'Shades of Black is a remarkable document of creative thinking and archival importance...' Homi K. Bhabha


ISBN: 0-8223-3420-8
320pp, paperback, 250 x 200mm, 116 illustrations
Duke University Press in association with Iniva and African and Asian Visual Artists’ Archive (AAVAA), 2005