6 Black artists you need to know about

25 February, 2022 / words by user

Written by IALH Team

Image by @sothebys


Thank God it’s Friday! Let’s end the week by learning about 5 inspiring artists who are challenging the world by way of visual arts such as photography and paintings. We love these artists for what they stand for as well as their approach to addressing current issues. If you don’t know, get to know!


Kehinde Wiley

Kehinde Wiley is an American artist best known for his portraits that render people of colour in the traditional settings of Old Master paintings. In Barack Obama’s words, Kehinde Wiley’s “art often takes ordinary people and elevates them, lifts them up, recognising the beauty and grace and dignity of people who are so often invisible and that was something that moved me deeply, because in my small ways, that’s part of what I believe politic should be about.


– In 2017, Wiley was commissioned to paint Barack Obama, becoming the first Black artist to paint an official portrait of a president of the United States, for the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery.

– Wiley was included in Time magazine’s 100 Most Influential People of 2018

– Rumors of War, is one of Wiley’s most popular work, a direct response to the Confederate sculptures that populate the United States. Sitting astride a massive horse in a striking pose, Wiley’s young, African-American subject is dressed in urban streetwear.

Misan Harriman

Photographer, entrepreneur and social activist Misan Harriman is one of the most widely-shared photographers of the Black Lives Matter movement. In July 2021 he commenced his appointment as Chair of the Southbank Centre, London. Harriman has a defining reportage style that has captured the attention of editors and celebrities around the world. Throughout his career, Harriman has been documenting historic moments in history to photographing high profile celebrities, including Meghan Markle & Prince Harry, Angelia Jolie, Jay-Z, Tom Cruise, Julia Roberts, Giorgio Armani, Rihanna, Cate Blanchett and Olivia Colman.



– He is also the first black person in the 104 year history of British Vogue to shoot the cover of its September issue.

– In early 2021 Harriman remotely took the photograph used to announce the pregnancy of Meghan, Duchess of Sussex

– In July 2021 he was appointed as Chair of the Southbank Centre, London

Joshua Woods

The Harlem-born, Paris-based photographer and filmmaker highlights the stories of his subjects in signature ground-spice hues with a radiating warmth. Joshua Woods focuses on the lives, cultures and histories of Black people across the African diaspora, seizing moments that help to shape the more representative future he not only imagines but is actively crafting. “From Harlem to the world


– Woods was commissioned to photograph Gucci 100 year anniversary campaign

– Woods photographed the cover of Assa Traore for Le Monde

– A lifelong dream of his, Woods exhibited in Studio Museum in Harlem

– Shot some of the biggest names in the entertainment industry, Skepta, Travis Scott, YG, Michele Lamy, Olivier Rousteing, Asap Rocky, Kendall Jenner, among others

Shop: Book 1 Faith Ringgold: American People ↗, Book 2 Kerry James Marshall , Book 3 Woman Made: Great Women Designers ↗

Kerry James Marshall

Kerry James Marshall is principally known for challenging the marginalisation of African Americans. Born in 1955 in Birmingham, Alabama, and raised in the Watts neighbourhood of Los Angeles, California, from 1963 (a couple of years prior to the eruption of the Watts Riot). Marshall says of his early life experience: “You can’t be born in Birmingham, Alabama, in 1955, grow up in South Central near the Black Panthers HQ, and not feel like you’ve got some kind of social responsibility.”


– Completed a residency at the Studio Museum in Harlem, NYC and received a John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation “genius grant.”

– ‘Past Times’ (1997) sold for $21.1m in 2018, a record for a living African-American artist, bought by Sean ‘Diddy’ Love Combs

– Painted American Vogue’s 2020 September cover issue

– Marshall has had retrospective shows at many of the major art museums in the world, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles and the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago.

– In 2017, Marshall was included on the annual Time 100 list of the most influential people in the world.

Jordan Casteel

Casteel creates colossal portraits of the people in her community, including former classmates at Yale University, where she received her MFA in 2014, street vendors and business owners in her Harlem neighbourhood. In vibrant hues of amber, lavender, and indigo, Casteel’s oil paintings have the purpose of featuring those who might not otherwise be portrayed on museum walls.


– Casteel is the recipient of a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship (2021)

– Graduated MFA in painting and printmaking from Yale University in 2014

 – Casteel was selected as a 2015-2016 artist-in-residence at The Studio Museum in Harlem

– Painted American Vogue’s 2020 September cover issue

Dina Nur Satti

Before settling in Brooklyn, ceramic artist Dina Nur Satti, originally from Sudan and Somalia, was raised in France and Kenya. Ceramic is a vessel to the purposeful artist. She often travels throughout Africa from Morocco to Ethiopia to meet with communities learning about ancient methods of craft, exploring her interest in learning how ritual objects and spatial design elevate experiences. 

“I think that a lot of us who grew up with these identity wounds go on to use that as a place of power, to say, Let me reclaim that narrative,” Satti says, “Let me tell you a story that we’re not told. Let me help you understand that there is power in where you come from.”

Shop: Book 1 Faith Ringgold: American People ↗, Book 2 Jean Michel Basquiat, Book 3 Dapper Dan: Made in Harlem ↗




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