“AfriCOBRA: Message to the People” at MOCA
Lili Tisseyre

#MIAMI We discovered the very symbolic aesthetics of Black Art during the exhibition “Soul of a Nation” at the Tate Modern in September 2017 and this summer at the Brooklyn Museum. On the occasion of the 2018 edition of Miami Art Basel, the Museum of Contemporary Art North of Miami celebrates the 50th anniversary of AfriCOBRA for “African Commune of Bad Relevant Artists” and presents “AfriCOBRA, Message to the People“, a “revolutionary” exhibition by the collective created in 1968 in Chicago.

This legendary group of black artists defined, from its inception, the immediately identifiable modern and visual aesthetics of what would be called the Black Arts Movement in the mid-1960s and 1970s

Born from a first collective, OBAC, which acquired national recognition in 1967 with the creation of a monumental fresco, the Wall of Respect, in the Bronzeville district of Chicago, AfriCOBRA claims to be the tool for using art to meet the social and cultural challenges facing the African-American community. This immense mural depicts the Black Heroes as positive role models for identity, community formation and revolutionary action

AfriCOBRA breaks free from codes and uses painting, stamping, textile design, clothing design, photography and sculpture. The artists of the group couple them with abstract motifs to evoke African artistic traditions and visual elements of luminescent and luminous colours “Kool-Aid”. Thus, works created, portraits, found everyday objects, letters and images emerge. Thus realized, these raw, emotional and festive images of black figures defined the social, economic and political conditions of the black people.

In 1969, the group disseminated its ideas by publishing a manifesto entitled “Ten in Search of a Nation”, which set out the objectives they hoped to achieve, defining the images that retraced the past, told the present and announced the future. By using the black identity, style, attitude and worldview, AfriCOBRA promotes the solidarity and self-confidence of the African diaspora: a true revolution of the mind, body and soul of which AfriCOBRA is the cradle.

This exhibition, which can be described as historical, explores both the individual careers of the founders, Jeff Donaldson, Jae Jarrell, Wadsworth Jarrell, Barbara Jones-Hogu and Gerald Williams as well as those of artists who exhibited with them between 1968-1973 and explores how AfriCOBRA‘s philosophy manifests itself as a group in their artistic approaches.


AfriCOBRA, Message to the People

Museum of Contemporary Art North Miami (MOCA)

770 NE 125th Street,

33161, North Miami, Florida