Vue de l'exposition
04 Mar 2014 18 May 2014

« L’Atlantique noir » de Nancy Cunard

"Negro Anthology" (1931-1934)

80 years ago, on 15 February 1934, Englishwoman Nancy Cunard (1896-1965), a symbol of the Anglo-Saxon and French avant-garde of the early 20th century, published Negro Anthology. Lavishly illustrated, this 858-page book, resembling a major documentary enquiry, blends popular culture, sociology, politics, history, art history in the form of articles, archives, photographs, extracts from the press, musical scores, eye-witness accounts etc.

About the Exhibition

The contributors were militants, journalists, artists, university staff; African-Americans, people from the Caribbean, Africa, Latino-America, America, Europe; women and men. Some of them had been colonised, discriminated against, segregated. This anthology was both a history of the black Americas and of Africa through time but also a political and cultural history of its time. It also revealed the transnational and multi-faceted character of the anti-racist and anti-colonialist struggles of the 1930s, and illustrates the international and transcultural formation that Paul Gilroy called "the Black Atlantic". Negro Anthology thus carries the reader on a journey between the black Americas, Africa and Europe.

Nancy Cunard was a poet, model, editor, collector, militant, journalist and anti-conformist who symbolises a period in which the artistic and literary avant-garde became intertwined with the political world. Through the great themes examined in Negro Anthology we will present the transnational artistic, literary and political networks constructed by Nancy Cunard in the years between 1910 and 1930, and which have made this anthology a monument to black history.

  • Curator

    • Sarah Frioux-Salgas, Head of collections documentation and archives at the musée du quai Branly - Jacques Chirac media library
  • Place:   Mezzanine est
  • TimeSlots:  
    From Tuesday 04 March 2014 at Sunday 18 May 2014
  • Closed on monday
    Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday:  10:30 am-07:00 pm
    Thursday:  10:30 am-10:00 pm
  • Public:   All publics
  • Categorie : Exhibitions
Vue de l'exposition
00:00 / 00:00
"L'Atlantique noir" de Nancy Cunard, "Negro Anthology" (1931-1934)" - Bande-annonce de l'exposition
Exposition "L'Atlantique noir" de Nancy Cunard, "Negro Anthology" (1931-1934)" au musée du quai Branly, du 4 mars au 18 mai 2014. Pour en savoir plus :
1:50 min

Exhibit Overview

Nancy Cunard: A Woman of an Epoch

This first section presents Nancy Cunard, the poet model, publisher, collector and journalist, and her intellectual and artistic career up until the production of Negro Anthology. This section contains photographs of Nancy Cunard, her lovers and friends, her bookshop, the characteristic bracelets she wore (photographs by Cecil Beaton, Barbara Ker-Seymer, Curtis Moffat, Raoul Ubac and Man Ray) as well as covers of some of the works published by Hours Press. A sound recording of Henry Crowder, an American jazzman, is played in this section.

Negro Anthology (1931-1934)

The following section explains the production process for the anthology (1931-1934) and presents the authors. This display demonstrates the original and unusual nature of the anthology. It highlights the importance of the intellectual and political black diaspora in the 1930s and its links with European and American intellectual and political movements.

This section contains a gallery of portraits, photographs of the intellectuals and authors who contributed to Negro Anthology, accompanied by a biography of each one. The contents page of the work is also reproduced.

“Equality of races, equality of sexes, equality of classes” Nancy Cunard, 1956

This section illustrates the political dimension of the anthology, both in the choice of themes and in the positions taken by its authors (anti-racism, anti-colonialism, etc.), as well as the other themes addressed by the anthology, such as relations between urban and rural cultures.

This work differed from publications of the time about Blacks, by giving a voice to political activists from America, the West Indies and Africa. An important record of the contemporary reality of the black world in America, Africa and the Caribbean, this section presents a selection of photographs (series on banana pickers in Jamaica for example) and archive documents (petitions, demonstrations relating to the Scottsboro affair*).

Creators: From Harlem to South Africa

This section illustrates the way in which Nancy Cunard chose to address the artistic questions. The creators are poets, singers, actors and musicians from black Africa and America. The anthology presents eagerly-anticipated texts on famous shows in the 1930s and defends an independent black cinema. Negro Anthology offers a fresh perspective on music and the visual arts. The display also includes two sound recordings (Black Gypsy by Eddie South and extracts from “Living is Hard: West African Music in Britain, 1927-1929, Honest Jon’s Records) and an extract from the film Borderline by Kenneth Macpherson (1930).

“The World Poets Defend the Spanish People”, 1936

The exhibit ends with Cunard’s political commitment, after the production of the anthology, to the cause of the Spanish Republicans and her new vocation as a journalist. She met up with many contributors of the anthology in this conflict, particularly the writers Langston Hughes, Tristan Tzara, Pablo Neruda and Aragon.