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30 Americans

October 27, 2019 – January 12, 2020

About the Exhibition

Drawn from the exceptional Rubell Family Collection and on view in the Roberts Gallery, 30 Americans presents works by 30 important and influential contemporary African American artists. From the canonical to the cutting-edge, these artists explore identity against a backdrop of pervasive stereotyping—of race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, and class—addressing intersectional politics in unique and powerful ways.

The Barnes presentation marks the tenth anniversary of this groundbreaking show and its long-awaited debut in Philadelphia.

Left to right: Rashid Johnson, Nick Cave, Kalup Linzy, Jeff Sonhouse, Lorna Simpson, Carrie Mae Weems, Barkley L. Hendricks, Hank Willis Thomas (front row), Xaviera Simmons, Purvis Young, John Bankston, Nina Chanel Abney, Henry Taylor, Mickalene Thomas (front row), Kerry James Marshall, and Shinique Smith. Photo by Kwaku Alston, December 5, 2008

Featured Artists

Nina Chanel Abney
John Bankston
Jean-Michel Basquiat
Mark Bradford
Nick Cave
Robert Colescott
Noah Davis
Leonardo Drew
Renée Green
David Hammons
Barkley L. Hendricks
Rashid Johnson
Glenn Ligon
Kalup Linzy
Kerry James Marshall
Rodney McMillian
Wangechi Mutu
William Pope.L
Gary Simmons
Xaviera Simmons
Lorna Simpson
Shinique Smith
Henry Taylor
Hank Willis Thomas
Mickalene Thomas
Kara Walker
Carrie Mae Weems
Kehinde Wiley
Purvis Young

Join the Conversation

This exhibition presents challenging themes reflecting the complexities of life in America. We invite you to see this powerful show and join the ongoing dialogue it inspires through tours, talks, classes, and related programs.

Experience. Learn. Gather. Connect

November 1–January 12

Special Exhibition Tour

Take an in-depth tour of this groundbreaking show.
Weekdays: $35; members $17. Weekends: $45; members $22

Jean-Michel Basquiat. Bird on Money (detail), 1981. Courtesy of Rubell Family Collection, Miami

October 25

2019 Barnes Art Ball

Our annual fund-raising fete celebrates the much-anticipated debut of 30 Americans and Henri Matisse’s 150th birthday.

October 29–November 19

Class: Black Art Across Time, Space, and Practice

Explore the dynamic intersection of race, identity, and sexual politics in the work of several artists featured in the show.
$200; members $180

November 1

In Focus Gallery Talk: Xaviera Simmons

An in-depth look at Xaviera Simmons’s One Day and Back Then (Standing).
Free with admission

November 1

First Friday! “Frederick Douglass Jazz Works”

Ruth Naomi Floyd’s talented ensemble brings the words of Frederick Douglass to life.
$28; Patrons, Contributors, and member guests $10; Supporters and Sustainers free

November 3

Conversation: Curator Gwendolyn DuBois Shaw and Artist David Driskell

A discussion about discuss creating, collecting, and curating art about African American life and culture.

November 9

Class: African Art in the Barnes Foundation: Context and Meanings

Learn the traditional meanings and uses of the African sculpture collected by Dr. Barnes while considering the impact of colonialism and imperialism.
$150; members $135

Owie Kimou. Portrait Mask (Mblo) (detail), Late 19th century

November 9

Teacher Workshop

Teachers of grades 5–12 are invited to a free tour of 30 Americans with Barnes educators followed by a presentation by staff of Temple University’s Charles L. Blockson Afro-American Collection. This is a unique opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of the themes and historical context represented in the show.

November 11

In Focus Gallery Talk: Kerry James Marshall

An in-depth look at Kerry James Marshall’s Vignette #10.
Free with admission

Kerry James Marshall. Vignette #10, 2007. Courtesy of Rubell Family Collection, Miami

November 13

Open House: Glean

A night of free art at the Barnes, and the world premiere of Glean, a performance-art piece created by Sherman Fleming.

November 16

Artist Conversation: Hank Willis Thomas and Deborah Willis

A lively conversation between two influential artists who are also mother and son.
$10; members and students free

November 16

Artist Bash: Activated Peoples

A celebration featuring artists who perform as they create, activating their histories, identities, and passions.

Tonight, photographer Shawn Theodore will create a living art installation.

December 6

First Friday! Elevate the Spirit

Tenor Allen Pinkney, Jr., lends his voice to a dazzling variety of music.
$28; Patrons, Contributors, and member guests $10; Supporters and Sustainers free

December 9

30 Americans: Gallery Talks

Join us for an afternoon of short talks on works in 30 Americans, presented by undergraduate students from the University of Pennsylvania who have been studying the exhibition as part of the Spiegel-Wilks Curatorial Seminar led by Professor Aaron Levy.
Free with admission; 2:30 – 4pm

December 16

In Focus Gallery Talk: John Bankston

An in-depth look at John Bankston’s Man’s Country I.
Free with admission

December 16

Artist Conversation: Pope.L with Gwendolyn DuBois Shaw

Performance artist Pope.L joins 30 Americans curator Gwendolyn DuBois Shaw in conversation.
Free; registration required

January 8

Panel Discussion: The Market for African American Art

Curator Gwendolyn DuBois Shaw discusses African American art with a panel of experts.
Free; registration required

Installation view, 30 Americans at the Barnes Foundation, Philadelphia. Photo by Sean Murray

January 10

Conversation: Mera and Don Rubell with Thom Collins

A lively talk about contemporary art with the collectors behind 30 Americans.
Free; registration required

January 10

Young Professionals Night: Power Patterns

After-hours art, style, and music, inspired by bold works in the exhibition.
$40; members $15; Contemporaries free

Exhibition Catalogue

30 Americans


This beautifully illustrated catalogue highlights some of the most pressing social and political issues facing our country today. In addition to essays by Robert Hobbs, Glenn Ligon, Franklin Sirmans, and Michele Wallace, this expanded fourth edition contains new artworks and 22 commissioned writings by artists in the exhibition. (Hardcover, 224 pages.)

Included as part of the tenth-anniversary presentation at the Barnes is a new illustrated essay by curator Gwendolyn DuBois Shaw. (Softcover, 20 pages.)

Exhibition Organization

Gwendolyn DuBois Shaw is organizing curator of 30 Americans and the curator of the presentation at the Barnes.


This exhibition is sponsored by

Works in this exhibition are from the Rubell Family Collection.

Generous support for this exhibition comes from the Jill and Sheldon Bonovitz Exhibition Fund, the Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation, and Aileen and Brian Roberts.

Critical support for all exhibitions comes from contributors to the Barnes Foundation Exhibition Fund:

Joan Carter and John Aglialoro • Julia and David Fleischner • Leigh and John Middleton • Jeanette and Joe Neubauer

John Alchin and Hal Marryatt, Christine and Michael Angelakis, Jill and Sheldon Bonovitz, Lois and Julian Brodsky, N. Judith Broudy, Laura and Bill Buck, Elaine W. Camarda and A. Morris Williams, Jr., Gloria and John Drosdick, Eugene and Michelle Dubay, Christine and George Henisee, Lisa D. Kabnick and John H. McFadden, Marguerite Lenfest, Victoria McNeil Le Vine, Leslie Miller and Richard Worley Foundation, Hilarie and Mitchell Morgan, Kay and Michael Park, The Rittenhouse Hotel, Adele K. Schaeffer, Katie and Tony Schaeffer, Dr. and Mrs. Eugene E. Stark, Joan F. Thalheimer, van Beuren Charitable Foundation, Kirsten White, Anonymous.

With support from other contributing donors.