Art and the Political: 1960s and 1970s

The 1960s and 1970s were a period of social and political transitions and transformations, marked by a series of historical events that would have profound effects on the future, our present. Central and Eastern Europe and the so-called Western world, and their geopolitical allies, were systemically transformed by the rivalry of the Cold War. In addition to the Vietnam War, the Asian political landscape was formed by the Cultural Revolution and hostile Sino-Soviet relations. Concurrently, most of Sub-Saharan Africa gained independence from colonial rule, marking the end of European empires. In Latin America, leftwing upheavals, U.S. intervention, and oppressive dictatorships were dominant in these decades. Moreover, the civil rights movement in the United States, along with the student and worker uprisings of May ‘68 in France, reverberated and sparked international solidarities across the world. This Theme explores the mobilization of artists and collectives—and the avant-garde responses, often international in scope, that these engendered—during two pivotal decades of global history.

Ojeikere: Fleeting and Captured Moments

In 1970, Johnson Donatus Aihumekeokhai Ojeikere, otherwise known as J.D. ‘Okhai Ojeikere (Nigerian, 1930–2014), made Fro Fro, the point of departure of this short text. Storyteller and lens-based artist Jumoke Sanwo reads this image, produced during Nigeria’s nationalist drive and considers Ojeikere’s subjects and their unapologetic defiance.

Gladys Mgudlandlu Painted Land(e)scapes that Bent the Genre to Her Will

If landlessness is another condition that transforms Africans into wanderers, with nothing but their labor to sell for a pittance, then the genre of landscape painting in South Africa represents a space-time of possession and dispossession. Implicit in Gladys Mgudlandlu’s landscapes is a reminder of how the ownership of land has historically epitomized South African nationhood.

Inji Efflatoun en prison (1959-1963) : peindre l’inrenouvelable

Inji Efflatoun fut une peintresse et une militante marxiste et féministe égyptienne. De juin 1959 à juillet 1963, elle fut emprisonnée par le régime nassérien en raison de son appartenance au parti communiste. Au cours de ces années, elle continua à peindre. Célébrés dès les années 1960, et aujourd’hui recherchés sur le marché de l’art, les tableaux de cette période sont souvent considérés comme les plus importants de son œuvre.