AMSTERDAM.- The Nieuwe Kerk presents a journey of discovery though the history of art. For the first time the attractiveness of the black person in the art of the Low Countries will receive attention. Many great masters turn out to have portrayed black people. The fascination with them will be illustrated in about 135 paintings, drawings and manuscripts from collections here and abroad. Black is beautiful presents a remarkable oil study by Rubens, an intimate drawing and etching by Rembrandt, paintings by Jordaens, Mostaert, Breitner, Jan Sluijters, Karl Appel and Marlene Dumas, and beautifully illustrated manuscripts from the late Middle Ages such as the famous Van Maerlant manuscript.
Together these works give an idea of the changing role of black people in Dutch art and culture. They show that for seven centuries black people
have been part of Dutch art and history, in which they play an ever more important role. Striking images and new insights take us from the year 1300, via the great masters of the seventeenth century, to contemporary art. Iris Kensmil has made twelve memorial paintings especially for this exhibition; they pay homage to her predecessors in black emancipation. They will be temporarily added to the architecture of the imposing Nieuwe Kerk.
The exhibition is divided into three main sections: the Old World, the New World and the Modern World. These sections are further divided into subjects such as The black king, Strong men, Strong women, Africa and the Africans, (South) America and the slaves and Portraits.
For the first time Black is beautiful presents a broad and coherent view of the beauty of black people in seven centuries of art in the Low Countries. The exhibition, which fills a gap in the study of Dutch art, is the result of years of research by guest curator Esther Schreuder and has been realised by the Nieuwe Kerk thanks to contributions from the VSBfonds, the Mondriaan Stichting and the Amsterdams Fonds voor de Kunsten. The exhibition is accompanied by a catalogue with international contributions in a Dutch an English edition which was made possible by the Prins Bernhard Cultuurfonds.
A 50-minute documentary about the exhibition will be shown on television. In October a broad programme of activities surrounding the subject of the exhibition will be organised.