MoMA delves into the artistic laboratory of “Just Above Midtown”

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Senga Nengudi performing Air Propo at JAM - 1981
Senga Nengudi performing Air Propo at JAM - 1981

From October 9, 2022 to February 18, 2023, the Museum of Modern Art in New York presents “Just Above Midtown: 1974 to the Present,” an exhibition focusing on Just Above Midtown (JAM), a gallery that gave voice and visibility to numerous African-American artists.

Source: Museum of Modern Art, New York (MoMA) · Image: Senga Nengudi performing Air Propo at JAM, 1981. Courtesy Senga Nengudi and Lévy Gorvy.

“Just Above Midtown: 1974 to the Present” is the first museum exhibition focusing on Just Above Midtown (JAM), the gallery and art laboratory founded in 1974 and directed until 1986 by Linda Goode Bryant. The exhibition “acknowledges Just Above Midtown as the efflorescent space that modeled how art and the relationships art fosters could respond to a society in crisis. This ambitious project not only historicizes JAM’s importance, but also underscores its relevance in the present,” says Thomas J. Lax, curator of the exhibition.

MoMA explains that “was founded by Linda Goode Bryant with the explicit purpose of ‘being in but not of the art world.’ By the time JAM closed its doors, it had established itself as one of the most vibrant and influential alternative art spaces in New York, embracing an expansive idea of Black art that included Conceptual art and work by those living outside of New York, organizing path-making exhibitions that thematized the idea of mixture in art and society, and fostering critiques of the commercialization of art.”

JAM’s legacy continues today through the work of artists it supported early in their careers, such as David Hammons, Butch Morris, Senga Nengudi, Lorraine O’Grady, and Howardena Pindell, and through the training it provided to anyone who was keen to learn about art. The MoMA exhibition will highlight works previously shown at JAM in a wide range of mediums. Archival material and artist interventions will contextualize the experimental ethos that defined the gallery. In addition to the exhibition, the project will include an exhibition catalogue, performances, screenings, and public programs.”


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