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Brandhorst Flag Commission: Nora Turato

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Cy Twombly at Museum Brandhorst

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Arthur Jafa

Artist Factory

was born in Tupelo, Mississippi, USA, in 1960.

Arthur Jafa is an artist and filmmaker. He worked as a music video artist with musicians such as Jay-Z and Solange before making a splash internationally as a visual artist.

Arthur Jafa confronts himself and the viewer with injustice, racist world views and the realities of oppressed identities. It is important to him to work with people who have a common goal: to create a just and safe space for all—without excluding any group.

Discuss

What do you consider to be a just and safe space for all?

Arthur Jafa grew up in the US state of Mississippi, where the Black population—as in many of the southern states—is very high. African-American tradition and culture are deeply rooted there and play a major role in Arthur’s work. With his works he criticizes racism and deals with Blackness, i.e. the experience of being Black. Arthur’s aim is that people of all skin colors should have the same rights. However, People of Color are not only discriminated against in the USA, but all over the world—including in Germany.

Delve deeper

Artwork Factory

Arthur Jafa, Monster, 1988/2019

Arthur Jafa points the camera directly at his mirror image. He stares at us with his penetrating gaze. The artist developed the photo at human scale, thus confronting the self-port

Arthur Jafa, Le Rage , UAB /

Arthur Jafa is interested in science fiction and comic heroes. These influences also flow into his art. For example, he created a self-portrait that recalled the comic book character The Incredible Hulk. The inconspicuous nuclear physicist Bruce Banner transforms into this green figure with supernatural powers as soon as something makes him angry.

Talk about it

Is art capable of raising our awareness of the importance of identity, history and culture? 

Arthur Jafa began collecting pictures at an early age and used them to create photo books. In them he juxtaposed pictures from different magazines and books, as if they were part of a common story—a bit like a movie. When he finished school he decided to study architecture and film at Howard University in Washington, D.C.

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