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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:

    1970s (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.316-2013

  • 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.

The pageants echoed 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. Full afro hairstyles were often combined with 1970s beauty trends of glamour and excess.

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

A black and white photograph of a woman with a large Afro hairstyle sitting at the corner of a table on a bar stool. She wears a short, patterned halterneck outfit, a bracelet and noticeable make up. In the background of the photograph there are more stools along a lower table at which a figure sits reading a paper. To the left of the background a man is stood looking down with one hand on his hip.

Place of Origin

London (photographed)

Date

1970s (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 the 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. 1970s, 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

Hair

Categories

African Diaspora; Hair and hairstyles; Pageants and Ceremonies

Collection

Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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