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Hank Willis Thomas

DEPICTING James Baldwin

“A person is more important than anything else…, is driven by the cadence and intonation of James Baldwin’s voice. Baldwin’s delivery was almost as forceful as his ideas. I weave various audio, images, and video together—including news clips, speeches, and interviews—in a fluid-moving, digital stream of consciousness that connects Baldwin’s 20th century discourse with the 21st, highlighting issues of race, gender, class and sexuality. This multi-channel installation inspires viewers to re-imagine our relationship to the contemporary moment.” —Hank Willis Thomas

5 images in a row, the center image of an African American man, the remaining four of white people in white parade outfits performing in black face.
A person is more important than anything else… [James Baldwin], 2014. © Hank Willis Thomas. Courtesy of the artist & Jack Shainman Gallery, NY.
A black & white portrait of an African American man, his hair cropped back to his scalp, wearing a white t-shirt.


Hank Willis Thomas

Thomas is a conceptual artist working primarily with themes related to perspective, identity, commodity, media, and popular culture. His work is exhibited extensively throughout the United States and abroad. Thomas’s collaborative projects include Question Bridge: Black Males, In Search Of The Truth (The Truth Booth), and For Freedoms, which was awarded the 2017 ICP Infinity Award for New Media and Online Platform. A recipient of numerous fellowships, Thomas holds a BFA from New York University and an MA/MFA from the California College of the Arts. Thomas is represented by Jack Shainman Gallery, New York; Ben Brown Fine Arts, London; Goodman Gallery, South Africa; and Marauni Mercier, Belgium.

A black & white portrait of an African American man gazing at the camera/viewer, his right hand resting on his left shoulder.

James Baldwin, Istanbul 1964, 1964. Sedat Pakay. Collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, © Sedat Pakay 1964.

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James Baldwin

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