Lauded London-based designer Grace Wales Bonner has officially opened her highly-anticipated exhibition at New York’s famed MoMA. Bonner, who founded her eponymous label in 2014, undertakes the 16th instalment of the MoMa’s Artist’s Choice series – a program that harks back to 1989 with notable alum such as Amy Sillman and Yto Barrada. Entitled Artist’s Choice: Grace Wales Bonner – Spirit Movers, the 50-piece display is set to run until April 7, 2024, within the museum’s street-level galleries.
Having already taken the fashion world by storm, this step in Bonner’s ascension to cultural polymathy is hardly a surprise. Renowned for her sublime tailoring, the sartorial innovator initially specialised in menswear before broadening her scope to womenswear in 2018, forging collaborations with industry giants like Dior and Adidas along the way. Often praised for her ability to communicate notions of identity and expression, enlisting Bonner’s artistic perspective is a perfect fit for MoMa, which itself is known for a dedication to progressive ideas and creative education.
The work selected by the creative focuses on artworks that highlight Black cultural and aesthetic practices, drawing inspiration from the multifaceted sounds, styles and experiences of the African diaspora. According to Bonner, the title ‘Spirit Movers’ encompasses the multiple histories that are explored, reified by a variety of artistic disciplines ranging from wood carving to photography. The exhibition features multi-generational artists from around the world, including Terry Adkins, Moustapha Dimé, Agnes Martin, Man Ray, Betye Saar and Artist’s Choice contributor David Hammons.
Bonner’s directional duties are supported by specialists in painting and sculpture, curator Michelle Kuo and assistant Dana Lilijegre, and the showcase is accompanied by a catalogue associating the displayed works with seminal texts from Black authors including Amiri Baraka, Nikki Giovanni and Langston Hughes. The layout of the exhibition is spaced out but not sparse, with pieces spread out enough to command the attention of viewers whilst ensuring they don’t take away from the overall narrative of the exhibition.
This isn’t the first time Bonner has tried her hand at curation. In 2019 she organised her first institutional exhibition – a multi-sensory exploration of mysticism in Black history entitled A Time For New Dreams at the Serpentine Gallery in London.
Speaking on the new presentation, Bonner states, “It is an immense honour to engage with the artists and works in MoMA’s collection, and I wish to extend my deepest thanks to the museum for allowing me the space to create so freely.” Discussing her hopes for the outcome, she notes, “I hope the exhibition and associated publication resound with the spirit of the contributing artists and continue to conjure new dreams and new visions.” Discover the exhibition here.
Photography courtesy of the Museum of Modern Art. ‘Artist’s Choice: Grace Wales Bonner – Spirit Movers’ is now open at MoMA until April 7, 2024.