Now Dig This! African-American Artists at MoMA PS1

Artists image of a human figure wrapped in an American flag part of Now Dig This at MoMA PS1


Los Angeles didn’t have an easy go of it during the 1960s and 70s. Like many American cities of the time it experienced two tumultuous decades marked by urban decay, riots and the increasing cultural, economic and political strength of previously ignored individuals and communities. No surprise, then that much of the urban art in the terrific MoMA PS1 exhibition, ‘Now Dig This!’ falls squarely in the realm of the provocative, the searing and incendiary. Showcasing 140 works by more than 30 different African-American artists, the PS1 show does an outstanding job of capturing the raw, sometimes explosive creative energy of the era.


Collage behind wooden door frame by African-American artist Betya Saar at Now Dig This at MoMA PS1


The Influence of African-American Urban Art in Los Angeles

‘Now Dig This! Art and Black Los Angeles’ features the work of many big-name artists like Melvin Edwards, Dale Brockman, Betya Saar and Noah Purifoy. (/david-hammons-at-lm-arts-on-the-upper-east-side-final-week/) One of our all-time favorite artists’ David Hammons work not only helped define a generation of African-American artists, but had a deep influence on American art as a whole. Spread out over almost the entire first floor of MoMA PS1, the ‘Now Dig This!’ exhibition of urban art offers up gallery after gallery of engaging, eye-opening pieces, from Saar’s dense assemblages (above) to Dale Brockman Davis’s Viet Nam Games, sculptural clay and metal models of the actual bombs that were being dropped on the people of Southeast Asia.


Iron sculpture of a man fally by John T Riddle part of Now Dig This at the MoMA PS1


The African-American Artists of ‘Now Dig This!’

Other works of particular note in the ‘Now Dig This!’ at MoMA PS1 show: John T Riddle’s gut-wrenching Gradual Troop Withdrawal (above); David Hammon’s iconic America the Beautiful, part of his brilliant ‘Body Prints’ series (top); William Pajaud’s menacing, majestic painting Sea Bird on Nest; and No Time For Jivin, John Outterbridge’s insistent sculptural collage (below).

Just in case all of this awesome art isn’t enough of an incentive to get you on the 7 train over to Long Island City, consider that the MoMA PS1 M. Wells Dinette (bottom) or ‘cafeteria’ received two stars from the New York Times and we can personally attest to serving some of the best food in town .


Sculptural collage No Time for Jivin by John Otterbridge in Now Dig This at MoMA PS1


Now Dig This! Art and Black Los Angeles 1960 – 1980, at MoMA PS1

The ‘Now Dig This!’ exhibition will be at MoMA PS1 through March 11, 2013. MoMA PS1 is located on Jackson and 46th Avenues in Long Island City, one block from the Court Square stop on the 7 train. The MoMA PS1 is open Thursday, Friday, and Monday from 12:00 noon to 6:00 p.m., and on Saturday and Sunday from 10:00 a.m. until 6:00. Closed Tuesday and Wednesday. For more information about this and future art shows, please visit the MoMA PS1 website. 

People sit and eat at the 'cafeteria' in M Wells Dinette in MoMA PS1 in Queens

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