Frank Stewart’s Nexus: An American Photographer’s Journey, 1960s to the Present

June 30, 2024 - September 22, 2024
Frank Stewart, Stomping the Blues, 1997, gelatin silver print, 16 x 20 in. Collection of Rob Gibson, Savannah
Frank Stewart, Katrina: Hammond B-3, 9th Ward, New Orleans, 2007, inkjet print, 30 x 40 in. Collection of The Medium Group, LLC, courtesy of Larry Ossei-Mensah
Frank Stewart, Clock of the Earth, Mamfe, Ghana, 1998, inkjet print, 30 x 30 in. Guess Family Collection, Louisville, KY
Frank Stewart, Radio Players Series (or The Bus), 1978, gelatin silver print, 14 x 11 in. Collection of Sing Lathan and Bining Taylor
Frank Stewart, Gorée Island Painter (or Slave Castle Back), 2006, chromogenic print, 35 x 42 ½ in. Guess Family Collection, Louisville, KY
Frank Stewart, Self-portrait, Dominican Republic, 1986, gelatin silver print, 16 x 20 in. Collection of the artist

This exhibition is a dynamic retrospective of Frank Stewart’s photography that centers on his sensitive and spontaneous approach to portraying world cultures and Black life in many forms—including music, art, travel, food, and dance. His work over the years captured intimate and empathetic images of lives experienced and observed across subjects, cities, and countries.

Tracing both Stewart’s explorations of life on the road and the trajectory of his stylistic journey, the exhibition brings together a comprehensive visual autobiography through over 100 black-and-white and color photographs as well as a selection of cameras from Stewart’s personal archives. Frank Stewart’s Nexus explores Stewart’s avid experimentation and numerous subjects over the course of half a century, including aspects and rituals of Black culture, trips to Africa and Cuba, and music. As the senior staff photographer for Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra for 30 years, Stewart captured both public performances and candid, personal moments, including well-known photographs of jazz legends Miles Davis, Ahmad Jamal, and Wynton Marsalis.

Frank Stewart’s Nexus also provides a window into less-explored aspects of Stewart’s practice, including his more abstract and painterly Drawings series, inspired by his travels. Color has dominated Stewart’s photography for the past two decades, and he has also increased the sizes for many images. In more recent images, he captures the ever-changing landscape and environmental catastrophes. At the center of his varied practice is a familiarity Stewart creates with the people and places that inhabit his works.

Frank Stewart's Nexus: An American Photographer's Journey, 1960s to the Present has been co-organized by The Phillips Collection, Washington, DC and Telfair Museums, Savannah, Georgia and guest curated by Ruth Fine, formerly of the National Gallery of Art in DC, and Fred Moten, poet, scholar, and professor of performance studies at NYU’s Tisch School of Fine Arts.

This project is supported in part by the National Endowment for the Arts.