Faith Ringgold

Serpentine Gallery

6 Jun 2019 to 8 Sep 2019

Faith Ringgold

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The ground-breaking work of Faith Ringgold was celebrated in this exhibition at the Serpentine Galleries, her first in a European institution.

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As an artist, activist and children’s author Faith Ringgold (b. 1930, Harlem, New York) has challenged perceptions of African American identity and gender inequality for over five decades. Growing up in the creative and intellectual context of the Harlem Renaissance and inspired by her contemporaries including writers James Baldwin and Amiri Baraka she is widely recognised for her painted story quilts combining personal narratives, history and politics ‘to tell my story, or, more to the point, my side of the story’, as an African American woman.

This survey exhibition, Ringgold’s first in a European institution, is chronological and includes paintings, political posters and story quilts. It begins with American People (1963 – 67), a series that exposes social inequalities and racial tensions she witnessed during the Civil Rights era, and culminates in her response to the Black Power movement. In the 1970s, her work and politics embraced feminism as she led protests outside New York museums demanding equal gender and racial representation in exhibitions, designed political posters and co-organised the People’s Flag Show for which she was arrested.

Ringgold’s paintings shifted in the 1970s from traditional oils to her first unstretched works bordered with pieced fabric, inspired by Tibetan tanka paintings. The exhibition includes her tankas from the Feminist, Slave Rape and abstract Windows of the Wedding Series Ringgold made in collaboration with her mother Willi Posey, a fashion designer. This led in the 1980s to Ringgold’s first story quilts where she was able to finally ‘publish’ her writings. She said ‘there’s so much freedom in “Freedom of Speech”, I could write whatever I wanted on my art – no one could stop me’. These works weave image and text in the tradition of quilting passed on through the female line of her family from her great-great grandmother who was born into slavery. From Harlem rooftops and jazz clubs, to a graffiti-filled New York subway and a radical biography of Aunt Jemima, the face of a pancake mix brand, Ringgold’s affirmative quilts celebrate a myriad of life, culture and aspiration. Her later quilt series Coming to Jones Road and the American Collection return to voice African American histories, including that of the Underground Railroad. As cultural assumptions and prejudices persist, Ringgold’s work retains its contemporary resonance.

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Faith Ringgold

Thursday, 4th July 2019

Faith Ringgold in conversation with Hans Ulrich Obrist for MATCHESFASHION.COM at Frieze New York 2019

Tuesday, 7th May 2019

Faith Ringgold install web 4

Faith Ringgold

(Installation view, 6 June – 8 September 2019, Serpentine Galleries)

Photo: readsreads.info

Faith Ringgold install web 2

Faith Ringgold

(Installation view, 6 June – 8 September 2019, Serpentine Galleries)

Photo: readsreads.info

Faith Ringgold install web 1

Faith Ringgold

(Installation view, 6 June – 8 September 2019, Serpentine Galleries)

Photo: readsreads.info

Faith Ringgold install web 5

Faith Ringgold

(Installation view, 6 June – 8 September 2019, Serpentine Galleries)

Photo: readsreads.info

Faith Ringgold install web 6

Faith Ringgold

(Installation view, 6 June – 8 September 2019, Serpentine Galleries)

Photo: readsreads.info

Faith Ringgold install web 7

Faith Ringgold

(Installation view, 6 June – 8 September 2019, Serpentine Galleries)

Photo: readsreads.info

Faith Ringgold

Faith Ringgold, American People #15: Hide Little Children, 1966 Oil on canvas Private collection, courtesy Pippy Houldsworth Gallery, London © 2018 Faith Ringgold / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

FR web4

Faith Ringgold

The Flag is Bleeding #2 (American Collection #6), 1997

Acrylic on canvas, painted and pieced border

Private collection, courtesy Pippy Houldsworth Gallery, London

FR web2

Faith Ringgold

American People #9: The American Dream, 1964

Oil on canvas

Private collection, courtesy Pippy Houldsworth Gallery, London

FR web1

Faith Ringgold

Jazz Stories: Mama Can Sing, Papa Can Blow #1: Somebody Stole My Broken Heart, 2004

Acrylic on canvas with pieced fabric border

Courtesy ACA Galleries, New York

FR web5

Faith Ringgold

A Man Kissing His Wife, 1964

Oil on masonite

Private collection, courtesy Pippy Houldsworth Gallery, London