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By Antwaun Sargent
304 pages, hardcover, $50
Published by Aperture
aperture.org

The New Black Vanguard, by writer and art critic Antwaun Sargent, is an audacious, ambitious work that is as visually striking as it is intellectually engaging. Clocking in at more than 300 pages of photos, essays and interviews, there is a lot to unpack. This is an impressive book, from scope to execution, and like any great work of art, it begins with a succinct premise: there is a budding movement of young, international Black photographers using fashion to disrupt the line between commercial and fine art photography. The New Black Vanguard begins with a meticulous mise en place by Sargent that contextualizes this movement and its debt to those who came before without blunting its nowness. The book ends with a series of group conversations with the artists, allowing them to examine their own moment, to wrestle with the ideas Sargent wants us to consider. These two pieces bookend the meat of the work: Fifteen artist portfolios, remarkably varied in terms of perspective and craft, and deftly curated. Whether raw or refined, talent pours forth in these images, spilling from one page to the next in tumbles of color and imagination. No two artists are alike, but the work veritably hums with their collective immediacy and their unrestrained Blackness. Seeing all this power and audacity in one place is the burning arrow that underpins Sargent’s thesis. These artists are out there in the arena and not only deserve but insist upon being seen—and seen on their own terms. This is not a paean to the fashion industry or to commercial photography. It’s a takeover. —Dzana Tsomondo

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