Josephine Baker
Icon in Motion

26.01.2024 to 01.05.2024
Neue Nationalgalerie

In 1925/26 Josephine Baker (1906–1975) appeared for the first time with the Revue Nègre at the Nelson Theater on Kurfürstendamm Berlin; reflecting on this upcoming centennial and therefore on the history of the 20th century, Neue Nationalgalerie Berlin created an exhibition about Josephine Baker’s artistry in dance, music, film, amongst other disciplines, and her inspirational role not only as an artist but also as a resistance fighter, civil rights activist, and transformative cultural figure.

Neue Nationalgalerie announced plans for a small, focused Josephine Baker exhibition about two years ago and invited the curator of last year’s Bundeskunsthalle Bonn Josephine Baker exhibition, Dr. Mona Horncastle, to use her biographical exhibition as one basis of the Berlin presentation.

For this exhibition, Neue Nationalgalerie invited film scholar Dr. Terri Francis to look at Josephine Baker’s role and influence as “Icon in Motion” as a cinematic pioneer that forever changed the moving picture and her impact in contemporary artistic practice. In order to put together these two sources, Klaus Biesenbach invited the artist Kandis Williams and the design agency Any Studio to develop a cohesive form and narrative.

The modestly sized Berlin exhibition added not only a focus on film, but also a contribution of contemporary artists to visualize the lasting inspiration that the figure of Josephine Baker maintains to this day. The exhibition further reflects on the changed role of the African-American artist in our contemporary discourse and how we describe and collectively imagine historical and present-day persons/personae.


Klaus Biesenbach initiated and installed the exhibition and finalized it together with Kandis Williams.

Kandis Williams, Dramaturgy and Exhibition Design.

Dr. Terri Francis, author of Josephine Baker's Cinematic Prism and Associate Professor of Cinematic Arts at the University of Miami.

Dr. Mona Horncastle, curator of “Josephine Baker. Freedom – Equality – Humanity” at the Bundeskunsthalle in Bonn, together with Katharina Chrubasik, exhibition director and curator Bundeskunsthalle Bonn.

Featured Artists

Historical Artists in the show include: Alexander Calder, Le Corbusier, George Hoyningen-Huene, Dora Kalmus, aka Madame d’Ora, Henri Matisse and Ernst Schneider.

Contemporary Artists in the show include: Jean-Ulrick Désert, Simone Yvette Leigh, Faith Ringgold, Ines Weizman, Carrie Mae Weems and Kandis Williams.

A special exhibition of the Nationalgalerie – Staatliche Museen zu Berlin in collaboration with the Bundeskunsthalle in Bonn

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