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.

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

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This exhibition includes 42 framed works in 3 main sizes: 16 x 16 in., 31.5 x 31.5 in., and 61.5 x 61.5 in.. Blue Note record albums featuring Brathwaite’s photographs and garments will also travel with the exhibition. Also included are hires files of historical AJASS and Grandassa posters to be printed by the Exhibitor for exhibition display.

Participation Fee:
Please contact Annette Booth at or (212) 946-7128 to discuss pricing.

This exhibition is available through 2021.

Other Locations:

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 – September 6, 2020

The New-York Historical Society
New York, NY
November 13, 2020 -April 11, 2021

Reynolda House Museum of American Art
Winston-Salem, NC
February 2, 2022 – May 8, 2022