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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:

    c.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.313-2013

  • Gallery location:

    Prints & Drawings Study Room, level C, case COS, shelf PHOTOGRAPHY

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. 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.

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 three young black women taken from a low vantage point. The woman in the centre is seated while the other two stand with their heads slightly cut off the image. They all wear swimsuits and platformed high heels with ankle straps. The woman seated has an afro and wears a dotted bikini. The woman to the left wears a light coloured swimming costume, while the woman to the right wears a bikini with a tropical print. Stacked speakers can be seen in the background and a man holding a telephone is behind the woman on the right.

Place of Origin

London (photographed)

Date

c.1970s (photographed)
2012 (printed)

Artist/maker

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

Materials and Techniques

Gelatin silver fibre-based print

Marks and inscriptions

Autograph ABP stamped on verso

Dimensions

Length: 32.7 cm sheet, Width: 26 cm sheet

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

Gallery 100, 2016-17:

Raphael Albert (1935–2009)
From the portfolio ‘Black Beauty Pageants’
1970–80

Raphael Albert’s series Black Beauty Pageants echoes the sentiment of the ‘Black is Beautiful’ movement, which started in America in the 1960s and encouraged black people to embrace their natural beauty. Albert founded the Miss Teenager and Miss West Indies in Great Britain contests in 1974 and viewed the contests as a way of restoring confidence within his London community.

Gelatin silver print (printed 2012)
Purchase supported by the National Lottery through the Heritage Lottery Fund
Museum no. E.313-2013
[]
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

Pageants; Fashion

Categories

Photographs; African Diaspora; Fashion

Collection

Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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