@ Riverside Art Museum

EXHIBITION ON VIEW: July 13, 2024 – November 3, 2024

Location: Second floor gallery

James Baldwin (1924–1987) was one of the most influential African American writers and civil rights activists of the 20th century. Born in Harlem, New York, he developed a love for language and literature that would shape his life’s work. Baldwin’s writings fearlessly explored issues of race, sexuality, identity, and inequality in America with searing honesty and insight. His early novels Go Tell It on the Mountain (1953) and Giovanni’s Room (1956) broke new ground in their nuanced portrayals of the Black and queer experience. He was equally known for his non-fiction work, such as his revolutionary essay collection Notes of a Native Son (1955), which established him as a powerful new voice in literature.

For his book Nothing Personal (1964), Baldwin collaborated with his childhood friend, photographer Richard Avedon. The strikingly modern design combined Baldwin’s powerful prose with Avedon’s stark portrait subjects, ranging from civil rights leaders to celebrities to ordinary Americans. Baldwin and Avedon created a complex and unsettling portrait of an America ruptured by racial, social, and economic divisions—one which remains strikingly relevant today.

Curated by Lisa Henry.

Photo courtesy of Riverside Art Museum.