Black Is Beautiful: The Photography of Kwame Brathwaite

In this exhibition are over forty large-scale color and black-and-white photographs by Kwame Brathwaite. His work helped advance one of the most influential cultural movements of the 1960s, "Black Is Beautiful," when black women and men turned to natural hairstyles and African-inspired clothing.  

Black Is Beautiful: The Photography of Kwame Brathwaite is the first major exhibition dedicated to Brathwaite, a vital figure of the second Harlem Renaissance. Inspired by activist and black nationalist Marcus Garvey's writings, Brathwaite, along with his older brother, Elombe Brath, founded the African Jazz Arts Society and Studios (AJASS) and the Grandassa Models. 

AJASS was a collective of artists, playwrights, designers, and dancers. Grandassa Models—the subject of much of the exhibition's contents— was a modeling agency for black women, founded to challenge white beauty standards. The exhibition includes documentary photographs of stunning studio portraits, fashion work, to behind-the-scenes images of Harlem's artistic and jazz community, including Max Roach and Abbey Lincoln. It offers a long-overdue exploration of Brathwaite's life and work.


Exhibition organized by Aperture Foundation, New York and Kwame S. Brathwaite.

The exhibition Black Is Beautiful: The Photography of Kwame Brathwaite and the accompanying Aperture publication, are made possible, in part, with generous support from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Photographic Arts Council Los Angeles. All photographs courtesy the artist and Philip Martin Gallery, Los Angeles.