Bowling's transition to abstraction, seen against the backdrop of 1960s-'70s debates on abstract art and the Black Arts movement.
"Modernism belonged to me also." So resolved the British Guiana-born artist Frank Bowling in 1966, when he moved from his temporary home base of London to New York City, keen to make his mark on modern painting. This volume surveys for the first time the transformative years that Bowling spent in the US from 1966 through 1975, a chapter of extraordinary productivity and artistic growth that would greatly shape his thinking and practice.
Bowling's relocation to New York brought him into contact with an art scene in flux, with abstract painting on the rise and vigorous debates unfolding around Black cultural identity and artistic practice. Bowling participated in this scene in broad and deep ways, from his unique vantage point as an emigre twice over: exhibiting widely, writing for art magazines, engaging peers in dialogue and, in 1969, organizing 5+1, an exhibition of five leading African American abstract artists plus himself. During these years, his own work explored the tension between representational imagery and fields of color, ultimately moving toward full abstraction.
Frank Bowling's Americas assembles more than 30 paintings--many rarely seen--from this critical period, and places them in the context of both Bowling's own artistic trajectory and the New York art scene at a time of aesthetic and racial reckoning. Offering magnificent reproductions of these vibrant, multifaceted works, accompanied by curatorial essays and statements by contemporary artists, this book invites new understanding of an artist whose work has remained always in motion.
Born in British Guiana in 1934, Frank Bowling arrived in London in 1953, graduating from the Royal College of Art in 1962. By the early 1960s, he was recognized as an original force in London's art scene. After moving to New York in 1966, Bowling shifted away from figurative imagery. He returned to London in 1975 but continued to spend significant periods in New York. Bowling was awarded a knighthood in 2020. He is the subject of a BBC documentary, Frank Bowling's Abstract World.