Tuesday, August 9, 2016

CALL for Collectors of African American Art Books and Ephemera

UPDATE to CALL: 8 Responses, representing Baton Rouge, LA; Warwick, NY; Kansas City, Missouri; Atlanta, GA; Memphis, TN; Miami, FL; Washington, DC; and New Jersey.

This CALL has a very narrow focus which is to  identify collectors who have a keen interest in building strong private or institutional collections of African American art books. Traditionally, this area of collecting has not been widely included in collections with an Afrocentric focus. This CALL is a follow-up to an earlier post that focused on my personal collecting, Collecting African American Art Books...A Personal Journey, and has been driven by my desire to connect with other bibliophiles with a similar interest and focus. The role of the bibliophile has been key to the study of African American history and culture and we have a responsibility to continue that legacy, and in continuing it, to make certain that the visual arts are more rightfully included. 

Historically, Black bibliophiles have played a major and sometimes overlooked role in the preservation and documentation of the history and culture of Blacks of African descent. These Black bibliophiles, as collectors, filled a void of collecting print materials that were not always embraced by a large number of mainstream American institutions, such as libraries, research organizations, historical societies, museums, and other cultural agencies. As Black bibliophiles, such celebrated names as the following, readily come to mind: William Henry Dorsey, Charles C. Seifert, John Edward Bruce, Robert Mara Adger, Arthur Schomburg, Joseph W. H. Cathcart, Daniel Alexander Payne Murray, Benjamin Brawley, Henry P. Slaughter, Charles Blockson, Clarence Holte, Richard B. Moore, Mayme Agnew Clayton, Hubert Harrison, William Carl Bolivar, Montgomery Gregory, Carter G. Woodson, Rayford W. Logan, Harrison A. Ridley, Jr., and there are others. They played a role in the documentation and preservation of the history of people of African descent. Through the sale or donation of their materials to libraries or archives their collections have been made accessible to a larger audience. More specifically, some of these bibliophiles were pivotal in establishing major collections at institutions such as Howard University, Atlanta University (CAU), Fisk University, the New York Public Library, the Library of Congress, simply to name a few. 

These book collectors have set a solid foundation for the study of the history of Blacks of the African Diaspora. To continue strengthening that body of literature, I am interested in uncovering what is currently being done to continue that legacy of collecting, but specifically within the visual arts. To that end, I am particularly interested in identifying individuals who have an interest in collecting print materials with a focus in the visual arts. 

CALL: If you are a bibliophile of Black visual art history, please contact Black Art Project (BAP): BlackArtProject@gmail.com or leave a comment on the BAP Blog with contact information. This CALL for  Collectors of African American Art Books will close November 30, 2016.

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