The Museu de Arte Negra (MAN) was founded in 1950 in Rio de Janeiro by the Teatro Experimental do Negro (TEN), directed by Abdias Nascimento. The MAN emerged from the first Congresso do Negro Brasileiro (First Congress of Brazilian Blacks), as a museological model to contest racism and epistemic violence by valuing the art and culture of people of African descent. As with other practices that bring life to the philosophy of quilombismo, MAN challenged colonial modern art structures, opening space to artists that have been ignored or whose art has been reduced to ethnographic artefacts. It denounced the looting of African art by western museums, and discussed how to liberate artists from the prejudices inherent within discourses around the ‘primitives’ or the ‘naïve’, thus placing African art on an equal footing with modern art. In 1955, it organized the Cristo Negro (Black Christ) competition, in which more than one hundred artists participated, reappropriating the ‘alienating aesthetic standards of whiteness’. MAN’s activities were interrupted when Nascimento went into exile in 1968 due to the repression of the dictatorship. Since 1981, its collection of some five hundred works has been housed at IPEAFRO, founded by Nascimento upon his return to Rio de Janeiro to insist on the quilombist agenda of cultural affirmation.

HKW wishes to sincerely thank IPEAFRO / Afro-Brazilian Studies and Research Institute for their collaboration.

Selection of artworks from the collection: Digital slideshow (2023). Courtesy of Instituto de Pesquisas e Estudos Afro-Brasileiros (IPEAFRO), Rio de Janeiro