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In a captivating celebration of the upcoming centennial of Josephine Baker’s iconic appearance with the Revue Nègre in Berlin, Neue Nationalgalerie Berlin presents a special exhibition titled “Josephine Baker: Icon in Motion.” 

Running from January 26 to April 28, 2024, “Icon in Motion” explores the multifaceted artistry of Josephine Baker, delving into her contributions to dance, music, film, and her significant roles as a resistance fighter and civil rights activist.

Born in 1906, Baker left an indelible mark on the 20th century. The exhibition provides a comprehensive retrospective of her impact on various artistic disciplines. The Nelson Theater on Kurfürstendamm Berlin witnessed Baker’s groundbreaking performance with the “Revue Nègre” in 1925/26, setting the stage for her notable career.

The concept of the exhibition has been in the making for about two years, with Nationalgalerie – inviting Dr. Mona Horncastle, the curator of last year’s Josephine Baker exhibition at “Bundeskunsthalle Bonn”, to contribute to the Berlin presentation.
Dr. Terri Francis, a renowned film scholar, has been enlisted to explore Josephine Baker’s role as an “Icon in Motion,” emphasizing her pioneering influence in the realm of cinema that forever transformed the moving picture. To bring together these diverse perspectives, Klaus Biesenbach, the curator of Neue Nationalgalerie Berlin, engaged artist Kandis Williams and the design agency Any Studio to create a cohesive narrative for the exhibition. This collaborative effort not only sheds light on Baker’s cinematic contributions but also incorporates contemporary artists, providing a visual representation of the enduring inspiration drawn from the figure of Josephine Baker.

The exhibition is not only a journey through Baker’s artistic achievements but also a reflection on the changed role of African-American artists in contemporary discourse. It prompts visitors to consider how historical and present-day individuals are described and collectively imagined, particularly in the context of figures like Josephine Baker.

For those eager to experience the captivating legacy of Josephine Baker, “Josephine Baker: Icon in Motion” at Neue Nationalgalerie Berlin promises to be a thought-provoking and visually stunning exploration of the life and influence of this extraordinary cultural and activist figure. Witness this exhibition, running from January 26 to April 28, 2024, as it pays homage to a woman who transcended boundaries and left an enduring imprint on the world of arts and activism.

Image 1: © From the Collection: Hughes, Langston
Image 2: © George Hoyningen-Huene Estate Archives
Image 3: © George Hoyningen-Huene Estate Archives
Image 4: ©Simone Leigh, Courtesy Matthew Marks Gallery

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