‘The New Black Vanguard’ Exhibit Comes to the DIA

The traveling exhibition features more than 100 images by Black photographers that highlight the intersection of fashion, art, and culture
new black vanguard
Adrienne Raquel, Gold Finger, New York, 2019 // Photograph courtesy of the Detroit Institute of Arts

On Dec. 17, the Detroit Institute of Arts debuts The New Black Vanguard: Photography Between Art and Fashion. Presenting the works of 15 Black photographers, the traveling exhibition features color portraits, conceptual images, and fashion editorial photographs and explores conversations surrounding Black representation.

The collection is curated by New York writer and critic Antwaun Sargent and features over 100 photographs by creatives who are part of The New Black Vanguard, which the DIA says is “a global movement of emerging artists working throughout the African diaspora, in Africa, Europe, and the U.S.” The photographers who make up the movement challenge the idea that Blackness is one-dimensional and celebrate Black creativity through their projects, which they often work on with Black stylists, clothing designers, and models.

new black vanguard - ruth ossai
Ruth Ossai, London, 2017 // Photograph courtesy of the Detroit Institute of Arts

“Antwaun Sargent highlights the work of gifted young image-makers who forge new narratives about photography, fashion, and Black identity to Detroit and the walls of the DIA for the first time,” says Nancy Barr, the DIA curator of photography, in a press release. “This is a must-see exhibition for all.”

Exhibit visitors can see the work of photographers like Campbell Addy, a London, England-based creative who uses images to explore relations between clothing and gender; Nigerian photographer Ruth Ossai, whose work is inspired by her native culture; and Cleveland, Ohio-based Adrienne Raquel, who captured photos of famous Detroit-born rapper Lizzo in a Playboy magazine shoot. For the DIA show only, guests can also find a special section of the exhibit called “New Gazes,” which spotlights the work of local photographers Mishira Davis, Justin Milhouse, Christian Najjar, Ray Rogers, Corey Turner, and Bre’Ann White along with more than 20 other emerging photographers from around the world.

new black vanguard
Tyler Mitchell, Untitled (Hijab Couture), New York, 2019 // Photograph courtesy of the Detroit Institute of Arts

Additionally, the exhibit will present videos and publications that feature work by photographers who are part of The New Black Vanguard movement. Among the works on display are magazine covers by Dana Scruggs, who, in 2019, became the first Black photographer to shoot a Rolling Stone magazine cover, and Tyler Mitchell, whose iconic photographs of Beyoncé graced the cover of Vogue in 2018.

The New Black Vanguard will remain open to the public until April 17, 2022. The exhibit is free with museum admission. 

For more information, visit dia.org.