The New Black Vanguard is a celebratory and thought-provoking mesh of fashion and art, focused on 15 remarkable black photographers. The book uses black figures to home in on beauty, identity and sexuality through a positive and inclusive lens while creating a conversation around the photographers changing the face of the art world.
Critic and curator Antwaun Sargent looked to a slew of exciting young creatives from all over the world to document the many facets of blackness in 2019. For this book – his debut – engagement was crucial, he tells Refinery29: "I wanted the book to stand in this moment but also look to the future and connect with this rich history of black portraiture."
Among the impressive bunch of artists in the book are NYC native Tyler Mitchell, whose Vogue cover shoot featuring Beyoncé was recently acquired by the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery, and homegrown talent Ruth Ossai. Hailing from Yorkshire, Ossai's images often represent both her Nigerian and Yorkshire roots; earlier this year, she shot a series of stunning photos for ASAI's Lagos collection.
The book is also peppered with essays, which Antwaun felt was crucial to reflect the artists: "You have Shaniqwa Jarvis and Renell Medrano talking about what it means to be a black female photographer in fashion and art. You have these important conversations that exist as intergenerational dialogues that reveal how ideas inside the black community around beauty and photography have shifted from one generation to the next."
Although Antwaun is part of a collective shining a deserving light on black creatives – "They’re making a way out of no way" he adds – it's worth noting that the landscape is still majorly corrupt. Just last month, founder of Pyer Moss, Kerby Jean-Raymond shared a powerful statement calling out the Business of Fashion after attending the BOF 500 Gala in Paris. Challenging the way it tackled inclusivity and diversity, he said: "You gaslighted me, used us, then monetised it." He then took himself off the list, saying: "Business of 500 is now 499."
Ahead, Antwaun talks us through five stunning images from the book and what makes them so special.