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Photograph - Black Beauty Pageants
  • Black Beauty Pageants
    Albert, Raphael, born 1935 - died 2009
  • Enlarge image

Black Beauty Pageants

  • Object:

    Photograph

  • Place of origin:

    London (photographed)

  • Date:

    1960s (photographed)
    2012 (printed)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Albert, Raphael, born 1935 - died 2009 (photographer)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Gelatin silver fibre-based print

  • Credit Line:

    Supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund.

  • Museum number:

    E.317-2013

  • Gallery location:

    Prints & Drawings Study Room, level F, case SP, shelf 6

Grenadian born photographer Raphael Albert (1935-2009) was committed to celebrating the growing black population in Britain. Whilst living in Hammersmith, West London he began to organise and photograph a host of black beauty pageants from the 1960s to the 1980s, mostly targeted at women from the British Caribbean community.

Albert also promoted black models as a freelance fashion photographer. This photograph was taken during a test shoot at his home. The extravagantly bejewelled woman features in a number of his photographs modelling different hairstyles.

The V&A acquired seven of Albert’s photographs documenting beauty pageants and the British Caribbean community in London as part of the Staying Power project. Staying Power is a five year partnership between the V&A and Black Cultural Archives. The project aims to explore black British experience from the 1950s to the 1990s through photographs acquired by the V&A and oral histories conducted by Black Cultural Archives.

Physical description

Black and white photograph of a black woman covering her chest with both her hands. On her hands she wears large plastic rings on every finger and has metallic painted nails. She also wears an embellished top with thin straps and a simple necklace with one jewel that is similar to the jewels on some of her rings. She has cropped hair and visible make up. In the background of the photograph, to the left, there is a man resting against an open door wearing a trilby hat and suit, he holds a camera which is dangling from his right hand.

Place of Origin

London (photographed)

Date

1960s (photographed)
2012 (printed)

Artist/maker

Albert, Raphael, born 1935 - died 2009 (photographer)

Materials and Techniques

Gelatin silver fibre-based print

Marks and inscriptions

stamped by Autograph ABP on verso

Dimensions

Height: 280 mm image, Width: 280 mm image, Height: 405 mm paper, Width: 305 mm paper

Object history note

The V&A acquired this photograph as part of the Staying Power project. Staying Power is a five year partnership between the V&A and Black Cultural Archives. The project aims to explore black British experience from the 1950s to the 1990s through photographs acquired by the V&A and oral histories conducted by Black Cultural Archives.

Descriptive line

Photograph by Raphael Albert, untitled, from the portfolio Black Beauty Pageants, gelatin silver print, London, c. 1960s, printed 2012

Labels and date

Raphael Albert (1935 – 2009)
Untitled
Untitled
The Harder They Come
Beauty Salon
Untitled
Miss Black & Beautiful
From the series Black Beauty Pageants
1960 – 79

This series of photographs echoes the sentiment of the ‘Black is Beautiful’ movement, which started in America in the 1960s. The movement encouraged black people to embrace their natural beauty. Albert became interested in black British beauty pageants while working as a freelance photographer for the newspaper West Indian World. He founded the Miss Teenager and Miss West Indies in Great Britain contests in 1974. He viewed the contests as a way of restoring confidence within his community.

Gelatin silver prints (printed 2012)
Museum nos. E.312 to 317-2013
[16/02/2015-24/05/2015]

Materials

Photographic paper

Techniques

Gelatin silver process; Photography

Subjects depicted

Photographer; Woman; Jewellery; Fashion

Categories

Photographs; Fashion; African Diaspora

Collection

Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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