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Art in America Exhibition Review: Who Gets to Be Abstract? A Legendary Show of Black Artists Gets a Second Look in “Revisiting 5+1”

View of “Revisiting 5+1,” 2022–23, at the Zuccaire Gallery, Stony Brook University. Photo courtesy of Dario Lasagni.

In 1969 Stony Brook University was in dire straits. Having been rocked by anti-war protests, student demands for a Black studies program, and a drug raid on campus, the institution was under pressure to radically transform just over a decade after its founding. Amid these circumstances, the school invited British Guyanese artist Frank Bowling to curate an exhibition of works by Black artists, sponsored by a new “Afro-American Studies Program.” Bowling seized on the opportunity, later declaring that “young people clamoring for more and better Black studies” were its “natural audience.”

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