The Uptown Triennial 2020 exhibition, the second iteration in the series, presents the work of contemporary artists in dialogue with the Harlem Renaissance, a defining moment in American modernism and African-American cultural history, during its centennial year. 

Uptown Triennial 2020 is organized by Wallach director and chief curator, Betti-Sue Hertz. The exhibition features 25 artists whose works project a confidence in Black identity that reflects a quest for making visible emerging subjectivities that mine popular and historical iconographies.

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Uptown Triennial 2020 includes works by artists Derrick Adams,Tariq Al-Sabir, Dawoud Bey, Sanford Biggers, Kabuya Pamela Bowens-Saffo, Jordan Casteel, Renee Cox, Gerald Cyrus, Priyanka Dasgupta & Chad Marshall, Damien Davis, Delano Dunn, Awol Erizku, Derek Fordjour, Hugh Hayden, Leslie Hewitt, Jennie C. Jones, Kahlil Joseph, Autumn Knight, Whitfield Lovell, Glendalys Medina, Rashaun Rucker, Xaviera Simmons, Dianne Smith, LeRone Wilson. These 25 accomplished artists work in a wide range of media including painting, photography, video, sculpture, installation and performance. 

Whitfield Lovell provides an installation of three paintings and sculptural items representing Black World War I returning soldiers. Large Installations by Xaviera Simmons and Derrick Adams focus on the Great Migration and the Green Book as a required resource for north/south car transport during Jim Crow, respectively. Hugh Hayden, a Columbia School of the Arts alumni, reimagines the cast iron skillet recasting the historical object with west African mask forms. Hayden says, “It's an honor and quite surreal to be included amongst so many artists that I look up to, particularly given this time, as we collectively engage with notions of the Harlem Renaissance in our own works.”

Six historical works in Uptown Triennial 2020 offer touchstones from which to explore the far reaching arc of the Harlem Renaissance’s influence. A first edition of The New Negro: An Interpetation this important cornerstone of the movement is included in this exhibition. Also presented are works by several of the Harlem Renaissance's revered figures—Aaron Douglas, Augusta Savage, James Van Der Zee, James Weldon Johnson—and a maquette of a theatrical stage set for Duke Ellington by Joseph Urban.

"The New Negro" edited by Alain Locke will be one of the core historical objects on view in "Uptown 2020." Above: (left) cover of the first edition, (right) interior portrait drawing of the author/editor by Winold Reiss.


The Uptown Triennial 2020 will be accompanied by public programs exploring the work and practice of the exhibition artists and their contributions to a larger representation of Black life and culture in the 21st century. Programming will also explore how the Harlem Renaissance continues to resonate today. A list of upcoming events is available here.

This exhibition would not have been possible without the many contemporary artists and lenders who generously loaned works from their studios or collections. We are especially grateful to Columbus Art Museum, Howard Greenberg Gallery, the James Van Der Zee Estate, the Johnson Collection, and the Columbia University Libraries. The Wallach Art Gallery's exhibition program is made possible with support from the Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Endowment Fund, and additional support from Columbia University.


The Wallach Art Gallery presented its first ever summer exhibition Uptown—a new triennial in 2017.  With Uptown, the new Wallach Art Gallery on 125th Street joined northern Manhattan’s vibrant art scene and celebrated the neighborhood long at the vanguard in nurturing vital, internationally recognized art.


The Wallach Art Gallery at Columbia University is pleased to present Uptown, a new triennial surveying the work of artists who live or practice north of 99th Street.

Xaviera Simmons. "The Whole United States is Southern," 2019 (detail). Courtesy the artist.

Past Exhibition

Exhibition Dates
SEPTEMBER 24, 2020–FEBRUARY 28, 2021