‘The Color Line’ at Paris’ Quai Branly is an exhibition on segregation and racism in the United States portrayed by African-American artists over the past decades.
The title) comes from an article by abolitionist leader Frederick Douglass, later made famous by civil rights activist W.E.B. Du Bois.
As early as the 19th century, African-American painters were highlighting racial struggles in their works.
“There are some strong images in this exhibition which wouldn’t be shown in the United States: there are caricatures, illustrations for songs that were more or less racist,” says curator Daniel Soutif. “In those days, entertainment included Blackface and Minstrel Shows, Vaudeville – it was a time when people used the word ‘coon’ to designate a black person.”
The exhibition takes viewers through the civil rights movement, the Harlem Renaissance, and introduces the new millennium with contemporary art work and media featuring Barack Obama’s historic presidency.
“We’re near the end of eight years under a black president in the United States. Barack Obama, in my opinion, has been a great president. He’s a president that will be go down in history, not simply because he was the first Afro-American president, but because of the policies that he put forward,” says Soutif. “But even Obama has not succeeded in eradicating racism in America.”
‘The Color Line’ runs at the Quai Branly in Paris until mid-January.