The new Black vanguard of portrait photography, plus four other photo shows worth seeing
William Klein's career-spanning retrospective; jazz legend Billie Holiday at Newark's Sugar Hill nightclub; eerily empty architecture; and more.
We’re back with a fresh batch of excellent photo shows to check out in the United States as the summer temperatures heat up. This month’s column features a mixture of historical and contemporary, including intimate images of jazz singer Billie Holiday, a career-spanning retrospective of photographer William Klein, a group exhibition that highlights emerging Black talent, a celebration of some of photography’s most influential female shooters, and a two-person show that documents New York City during the early days of the pandemic from two perspectives.
Billie Holiday at Sugar Hill: Photographs by Jerry Dantzic
In 1957, during Billie Holiday’s week-long residency at the Sugar Hill Nightclub in Newark, New Jersey, photojournalist Jerry Dantzic was given special access to document the performer. Captured just two years before her death, the images on view showcase an expansive view of the private and public life of the iconic performer. The exhibition includes rarely seen images of Holiday with her son, her godchild, and her pet chihuahua, Pepi. The pictures are accompanied by commentary from author Zadie Smith, along with objects including Dantzic’s Leica M3, a 1957 copy of SEE Magazine that featured the photos, and other ephemera. The collection of images highlights Holiday’s passion and originality.
Where: Newark Museum of Art in Newark, New Jersey
When: Through August 22
For more info on the exhibition, go to the museum’s website at newarkmuseumart.org.
William Klein: YES; Photographs, Paintings, Films 1948-2013
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This summer the International Center of Photography hosts the first U.S. exhibition dedicated to William Klein’s work in over a generation. Throughout his career, Klein’s work straddled the worlds of street photography, fashion photography, graphic design, painting, filmmaking, and more. This expansive show will fill the museum space and feature over 200 pieces that are inclusive of the various mediums he has worked in. The career-spanning exhibition covers Klein’s time as a studio assistant in Paris to his career photographing in Brooklyn. Get inspired this summer by diving into the mind of one of photography’s most versatile creators.
Where: ICP in New York City
When: Through September 12
For more info on the exhibition, go to the museum’s website at ICP.org.
The New Black Vanguard: Photography Between Art and Fashion
This group exhibition presents the work of Black photographers working in the worlds of portraiture and conceptual art, who fuse the genres of art and fashion photography—changing the contemporary visual vocabulary regarding beauty. The show includes work from Campbell Addy, Arielle Bobb-Willis, Micaiah Carter, Awol Erizku, Nadine Ijewere, Quil Lemons, Namsa Leuba, Renell Medrano, Tyler Mitchell, Jamal Nxedlana, Daniel Obsai, Ruth Ossai, Adrienne Raquel, Dana Scruggs, and Stephen Tayo. The included photographers are regularly featured in lifestyle magazines and ad campaigns, and run widely-consumed social media channels—they are also artists who are actively expanding conversations regarding the representation of Black bodies and Black lives, and celebrating Black creativity.
The exhibition also features a salon-style wall of photographs that features images from additional emerging Black artists, including Lawrence Agyei, Daveed Baptiste, Faith Couch, Yannis Davy Guibinga, Delphine Diallo, Rhea Dillon, Justin French, Erica Génécé, Denzel Golatt, Travis Gumbs, Texas Isaiah, Seye Isikalu, Adama Jalloh, Manny Jefferson, Joshua Kissi, Myles Loftin, Ronan Mckenzie, Tyra Mitchell, Travys Owen, Lucie Rox, Makeda Sandford, Cécile Smetana Baudier, Isaac West, and Joshua Woods.
Where: Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland, Ohio
When: Through September 11
For more info on the exhibition, go to the museum’s website at clevelandart.org.
Anonymous Architectures: Lauren Silberman and Alexa Hoyer
Captured during the early days of New York City’s COVID-19 lockdown, these two bodies of work from Alexa Hoyer and Lauren Silberman document the strange era when the city that never sleeps, seemed to be frozen in time and completely devoid of people. Window Dressing by Alexa Hoyer focuses on the luxury storefronts that boarded up their windows during the COVID-19 lockdown and the city-wide BLM protests. The Lost Happy Hours by Lauren Silberman captures the interiors of the shuttered bars and nightclubs in her neighborhood—which ultimately became symbols of the loneliness inherent with sheltering at home during the early days of the pandemic.
Where: Mana Contemporary in Jersey City, New Jersey
When: Through August 31
For more info on the exhibition, go to the museum’s website at manacontemporary.com.
Modern Women Modern Vision
This traveling group exhibition, currently on view in Denver, features over 100 images by female photographers such as Diane Arbus, Imogen Cunningham, Dorothea Lange, and contemporary artists like Neeta Madahar, and Carrie Mae Weems. The expansive show celebrates the contributions of women to photography in the 20th century and how they’ve shaped the medium. Modern Women Moden Vision is organized into six thematic sections including Modernist Innovators, Documentary Photography and the New Deal, the Photo League, Modern Masters, Exploring the Environment, and The Global Contemporary Lens.
Ultimately this exhibition is a great overview of the influence women photographers have had on the medium and an excellent place to discover the work of a diverse group of creators in one place.
Where: Denver Art Museum in Denver, Colorado
When: Through August 28
For more info on the exhibition, go to the museum’s website at denverartmuseum.org.