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Jamaican Art Since the Thirties

Group show at Spelman College. 1969
Date: 9 November, 1969 until 10 December, 1969
Organiser: Contemporary Jamaican Artists’ Association/Spelman College

Major, important exhibition of Jamaican Art Since the Thirties, held at Spelman College, the historically Black women’s college in Atlanta, Georgia, USA. The exhibition, which featured some 35 artists, mainly painters, was shown from 9 November - 10 December 1969. The exhibiting artists reflected the various routes that the practitioners had taken to the establishment of their careers. A number had studied under the pioneer of Jamaican Art, Edna Manley. Others had trained in leading art schools in the United States, Europe, and elsewhere. And yet others had undertaken the substantial parts of their training at the art school in Kingston Jamaica, which was eventually to be named after Edna Manley. In this regard, the exhibition was a reflection of the almost infinite international aspects that underpinned Jamaican Art. In contrast to those artists who had travelled for their training, and those who had undertaken studies in Kingston, there were those self-taught artists who would in time come to be referred to as intuitives.

The exhibition was one of the first introductions to Jamaican Art that was to travel outside of the island. In time, several such exhibitions would be organised. A number of the artists in this exhibition went on to further enhance their reputations as important practitioners. Others, such as Corah Hamilton Eaton, Dorit Hutson, and Lloyd Van Pitterson would in due become relatively obscure figures in the history of Jamaican art. The title of the exhibition referenced the idea that Jamaican art could be dated back to the second or third decade of the 20th century. That was the time period during which Edna Manley travelled to set up a home and studio in Jamaica, as a young artist and wife of the great Jamaican leader Norman Washington Manley.

The work in the exhibition was overwhelmingly figurative, and reflected the vigorous nature and multiplicity of social and artistic concerns of practitioners from, and living in, this Caribbean nation that had, at the time of the exhibition, been independent for only some seven years.

The exhibition came with a hugely important catalogue, featuring a major text by the African-American scholar Edmund B. Gaither, and a Preface by John Davis Hatch, Advisor in Art and Professor  of American Art History at Spelman. It was this Preface that made mention of the works in the exhibition ranging “in date from 1935 to the present, including slightly over half a dozen artists (sic) works which were done in the provincial style which continued through the 1950’s. Most of the works were executed in the 1960’s when a greater number of artists were trained abroad.”


Related items

click to show details of Jamaican Art Since the Thirties

»  Jamaican Art Since the Thirties

Catalogue relating to an exhibition, 1969

People in this exhibition + view all 35

»  Carl Abrahams

Born, 1911 in Jamaica. Died, 2005

»  Trevor Burrowes

Born, 1937 in Jamaica

»  Ralph Campbell

Born in Jamaica, date unknown

»  Maurice Chen

Born, 1943 in Jamaica

Exhibition venues

»  Spelman College

Atlanta, United States of America