Where some might argue that the range is too broad to have a coherent exhbition, one clear commonality of all works is how artist's viewed black people and how they knowingly and unknowingly portrayed their models with their preconceptions. The exhibition displayed a wide range of artworks from different movements between 1788 and 1956. The French abolition took place first in 1794, which was afterwards reinstated by Napoleon in 1802. Most artist's were widely against slavery and demonstrated against it through their canvas and marble.
In 1848 slavery was finally abolished. By that time many artistic circles had black muzes who were admired and mostly seen as exotic, different thus intruiging. The black skin of the black muzes contrasted so well with the white lily skin in order to emphasise the beauty and the purity of their white counterpart. Although in favour of abolition and even French civilian status, there is always that subservient imposition of the black model. Throughout the years there is some development in the status of the black model; less of a subservient role to a more "positive" and quite stereotyped image. Further into the exhibition are examples of growing black communities within France who often had a position in music - Paris had a thriving Jazz scene in the 1920's and 1930's -, theater and the circus. Gifted and revered as Josephine Baker was, it is unthinkable today for a black artist to take part in a minstrel, blackface type performance. Below picture of Josephine and fellow dancer is CRINGEWORTHY to me. I guess she adapted to the white audience that has always been interested at gazing at the exotic, the wild, the other, the not so equal. <<<<<<<