Black Is Beautiful: The Photography of Kwame Brathwaite
Columbia Museum of Art, South Carolina
June 26 - September 06, 2020

Skirball Cultural Center
Los Angeles
April 11 – September 1, 2019

Museum of the African Diaspora
San Francisco
December 4, 2019 – March 1, 2020

Columbia Museum of Art
Columbia, South Carolina
June 26, 2020 – September 6, 2020

The New-York Historical Society

New York

November 13, 2020 -April 11, 2021

Reynolda House

Winston-Salem, North Carolina

February 2 – May 8, 2022



In the late 1950s and throughout the 1960s, Kwame Brathwaite used photography to popularize the political slogan “Black Is Beautiful.” This exhibition—the first ever dedicated to Brathwaite’s remarkable career—tells the story of a key figure of the second Harlem Renaissance.

Inspired by the writings of activist and black nationalist Marcus Garvey, 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 this show’s contents— was a modeling agency for black women, founded to challenge white beauty standards. From stunning studio portraits to behind-the-scenes images of Harlem’s artistic community, including Max Roach and Abbey Lincoln, this show offers a long-overdue exploration of Brathwaite’s life and work.

Kwame Brathwaite (b. 1938 in Brooklyn, New York) is represented by Philip Martin in Los Angeles, and is included in the exhibition Mod New York, on view at the Museum of the City of New York through April 1, 2018. He was honored at Aperture Foundation’s fall 2017 gala.

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.


Education Resource Available: Click to download 

This free teacher resource is intended to inform educators about the exhibition Black is Beautiful: The Photography of Kwame Brathwaite, so they are better able to lead students of all ages in meaningful discussions surrounding its content. For more information about Aperture’s educational resources contact [email protected].