Unfortunately this show slipped under the radar for me. Gladly, the magazine, “Art in America” produced an article in their current issue highlighting the exhibition that ended in February.
Emory Douglas was the visual leader of the Black Panthers from 1967-84. His politically charged artwork graced the pages of “The Black Panther” the movement’s newspaper. Douglas met up with Huey Newton and Bobby Seale when the two were trying to get the newspaper off the ground. Newton and Seale were designing “The Black Panther” with awkwardly drawn headlines in pencil. Emory Douglas stepped in and was quickly granted the title Minister of Culture and Revolutionary Artist of the Black Panther Party. For almost two decades he shifted opinion and led the movement, visually.
The impact of the Douglas designs did not stop with the decline of the movement. Today, many top artists make depictions that are obvious copies of the work of Emory Douglas. True, they may be selling something and playing at revolution, but at least the spirit of these early designs lives on. Perhaps that kid with the faux revolutionary t-shirt or sticker will be flipping through a book or looking online and find that the symbols used today actually had real world meaning. For more information about the highly influential work of Emory Douglas, please visit the LA MOCA website. Many artworks are available to view there with a bit of text on each piece from the artist.
Black Panther: The Revolutionary Art of Emory Douglas
21 October 2007 – 24 February 2008
Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art
MOCA Pacific Design Center