Here Are the Art Exhibitions We Want to See this Summer

Get ready for a vibrant art adventure this season, as this summer of culture is filled with exhibitions by some of the most notable Black artists from across the globe. Whether it’s LaToya Ruby Frazier’s powerful stories at MoMA that shed light on the struggles and triumphs of the Black working class, or the celebration of James Baldwin and queer voices at the National Portrait Gallery at the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C., there’s something for everyone. Dive into this world of Black excellence and creativity (the beach will still be there, we promise!) and experience the artistic mastery of these Black creators.

Latoya Ruby Frazier: Monuments of SolidarityThe Museum of Modern Art—New York City

LaToya Ruby Frazier Takes on Levi’s, 2010 © 2023 Art21, courtesy of the artist and Gladstone gallery.
LaToya Ruby Frazier Takes on Levi’s, LaToya Ruby Frazier, 2010. Image: 2023 Art21, courtesy of the artist and Gladstone Gallery.

For more than two decades, Frazier has used photography, text, moving images and performance to revive and preserve forgotten narratives of labor, gender and race in the post-industrial era. This is the first museum survey dedicated to the artist-activist, on view through September 7, 2024.

Lyle Ashton Harris: Our first and last love, The Queens Museum—Queens, New York
Succession, 2020, Lyle Ashton Harris.
Succession, Lyle Ashton Harris, 2020. Image: Rose Art Museum, Brandeis University, Mortimer and Sara Hays Acquisition Fund, 2023.4. Courtesy of the artist.

In his first solo showing in New York at The Queens Museum, the celebrated artist shares over 40 works, including photographs, collages, assemblages, and video installations spanning his four-decade career. The retrospective is a deep dive into Harris’ ongoing visual explorations at the intersection of contemporary Black and queer communities. Through September 22, 2024.

Mickalene Thomas: All About Love, The Broad—Los Angeles
Din avec la main dans le miroir et jupe rouge, Mickalene Thomas, 2023. Image: courtesy © Mickalene Thomas/Broad Museum.

Part of the artist’s first major international exhibition tour features over 80 pieces created throughout her 20-year career, celebrating her signature style of mixed-media paintings, collages, installations and photography, all centered around Black women and exploring Black identity and the female experience. Through September 29, 2024, with travels planned to London and other locations.

Emmett Till and Mamie Till-Mobley: Let the World See, Northwest African American Museum—Seattle, Washington

The critically acclaimed exhibition Emmett Till and Mamie Till-Mobley: Let the World See at NAAM examines a watershed moment in US history, illuminating one of the major catalysts of the Civil Rights Movement. The exhibit tells the story of Emmett Till’s life and death and his mother Mamie Till-Mobley’s relentless pursuit of justice for her 14-year-old son. The show encourages visitors to take action to advance social justice in their own communities. Let the World See was developed in collaboration with the Emmett Till and Mamie Till-Mobley Institute, the Emmett Till Interpretive Center, the Till family and The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis. From June 13 through December 2024.     

Tiff Massey: 7 Mile + Livernois, Detroit Institute of Art—Detroit, Michigan

A new show of newly commissioned and recent works by the Detroit-based multidisciplinary artist, this work presents a vibrant, inclusive view of Massey’s hometown, exploring the relationship between identity, public space and community. Through May 2025.

This Morning, This Evening, So Soon: James Baldwin and the Voices of Queer Resistance, National Portrait Gallery at the Smithsonian—Washington, D.C.

Titled after a short story by Baldwin published in The Atlantic and commemorating the centennial of Baldwin’s birth, the exhibition uses portraiture and ephemera to explore the interwoven lives of Baldwin, A Raisin in the Sun author Lorraine Hansberry, lawyer, educator and politician Barbara Jordan, Civil Rights activist Bayard Rustin and Essex Hemphill and Marlon Riggs, both poets and filmmakers. From June 2024 to April 2025.

Updated: May 27, 2024 — 12:01 pm