Getty Museum acquires Kamoinge Workshop photos

The J. Paul Getty Museum has acquired 60 photographs by nine artists affiliated with the Kamoinge Workshop: Anthony Barboza, Adger Cowans, Louis Draper, Albert Fennar, Ray Francis, Herbert Randall, Herb Robinson, Ming Smith, and Shawn Walker. Additionally, the Getty Research Institute acquired 14 portraits by Anthony Barboza picturing members of the Kamoinge Photographers Workshop.

The photographs acquired by the Getty Museum capture aspects of urban life at mid-century, the civil rights movement, and the Black experience abroad from throughout each artist’s career.

The Getty Research Institute acquired a complete set of unexhibited vintage prints of a series of portraits made by Anthony Barboza of each member of the Kamoinge Workshop in 1972. He compiled the portraits and prints to create accordion-bound books, which he gave to each of them as Christmas presents. Anthony Barboza’s portrait series of its members stands as a historical icon marking the emergence of this group and their place in the history of photography.

These acquisitions come following a recent Getty Museum exhibition on the Kamoinge Workshop.

“Kamoinge artists were committed to the power of photography as an art form and depicted Black life as they saw and experienced it. They sought to offer an alternative to the mainstream media of the time, which often overlooked Black culture or portrayed it negatively,” Timothy Potts, Maria Hummer-Tuttle and Robert Tuttle director of the J. Paul Getty Museum, said. “As part of the Getty’s commitment to building a more inclusive representation of American photography, both past and present, the Museum is continuing to work with members of the Kamoinge Workshop to bring additional objects into the collection for future exhibitions, and for researchers and classes to view in the Department of Photographs study room.” 

The Getty Research Institute’s acquisition is part of its ongoing African American Art History Initiative.

“The Kamoinge Workshop helped shape a critical era of Black self-determination in the 1960s and 1970s, a period that coincided with a pivotal shift in photography’s wider acceptance as a powerful artistic medium,” Mary Miller, director of the Getty Research Institute, said. “Acquiring Barboza’s work, and in particular this series, which symbolizes the collaborative efforts of the Kamoinge photographers, is particularly important as we create a center for the study of African American art.”

To learn more about Getty Museum’s exhibition, visit Working Together: The Photographers of the Kamoinge Workshop. To learn more about the Getty Research Institute’s multi-project effort to make African American art history more visible to the public and accessible to the scholarly community worldwide, visit African American art History Initiative.

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