EYE CANDY

Revisiting Jet and Ebony: Never-Before-Seen Images From the Groundbreaking Archives

Isaac Sutton - Courtesy Johnson Publishing Company 3.jpg
Courtesy Johnson Publishing Company

Ebony magazine and its sister weekly Jet were both founded in 1942 to depict the experience of being black in America. It wasn’t long, though, before they were actively changing that experience—not only through radical moves like giving Mamie Till the platform to show the country what it had done to her brutally murdered 14-year-old son, but also through coverage that helped shape and promote Africa-American celebrity and culture. It’s no wonder, then, that their archives encompass more than four million images—or why, in his efforts to share the images with those outside of his community, the artist Theaster Gates chose two of Jet and Ebony’s most versatile photographers, Moneta Sleet Jr. and Isaac Sutton, as the focus for a new exhibition. On view now at the Fondazione Prada Osservatorio in Milan, “The Black Image Corporation” manages to transport visitors from modern-day Milan to midcentury Chicago; along with copies of special issues like a 1966 Ebony titled “The Negro Woman,” furnishings from the publications’ former offices have been made available so visitors can take a seat while perusing the magazines. The surroundings—never-before-seen images from the archives, focusing on beauty and black female power—reflect Gates’s other goal with the exhibition: “I wanted to celebrate women of all kinds, and especially black women,” he told the foundation. Take a look inside, here.

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Courtesy Johnson Publishing Company

Photo by Isaac Sutton, n.d. Featured in “The Black Image Corporation,” curated by Theaster Gates, on view at the Fondazione Prada Osservatorio through January 2019.

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Courtesy Johnson Publishing Company

Photo by Isaac Sutton, 1969. Featured in “The Black Image Corporation,” curated by Theaster Gates, on view at the Fondazione Prada Osservatorio through January 2019.

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Photo by Delfino Sisto Legnani and Marco Cappelletti. Courtesy Fondazione Prada

Ebony magazines in an exhibition view of “The Black Image Corporation,” curated by Theaster Gates, on view at the Fondazione Prada Osservatorio through January 2019.

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Photo by Delfino Sisto Legnani and Marco Cappelletti. Courtesy Fondazione Prada

Exhibition view of “The Black Image Corporation,” curated by Theaster Gates, on view at the Fondazione Prada Osservatorio through January 2019.

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Courtesy Johnson Publishing Company

Photo by Isaac Sutton, 1967. Featured in “The Black Image Corporation,” curated by Theaster Gates, on view at the Fondazione Prada Osservatorio through January 2019.

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Courtesy Johnson Publishing Company

Photo by Moneta Sleet Jr., 1969. Featured in “The Black Image Corporation,” curated by Theaster Gates, on view at the Fondazione Prada Osservatorio through January 2019.

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Photo by Delfino Sisto Legnani and Marco Cappelletti. Courtesy Fondazione Prada

Ebony magazines in an exhibition view of “The Black Image Corporation,” curated by Theaster Gates, on view at the Fondazione Prada Osservatorio through January 2019.

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Courtesy Johnson Publishing Company

Photo by Isaac Sutton, n.d. Featured in “The Black Image Corporation,” curated by Theaster Gates, on view at the Fondazione Prada Osservatorio through January 2019.

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Courtesy Johnson Publishing Company

Photo by Isaac Sutton, 1969. Featured in “The Black Image Corporation,” curated by Theaster Gates, on view at the Fondazione Prada Osservatorio through January 2019.

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Courtesy Johnson Publishing Company

Photo by Moneta Sleet Jr., 1969. Featured in “The Black Image Corporation,” curated by Theaster Gates, on view at the Fondazione Prada Osservatorio through January 2019.

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Courtesy Johnson Publishing Company

Photo by Isaac Sutton, 1965. Featured in “The Black Image Corporation,” curated by Theaster Gates, on view at the Fondazione Prada Osservatorio through January 2019.

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Photo by Delfino Sisto Legnani and Marco Cappelletti. Courtesy Fondazione Prada

Ebony magazines in an exhibition view of “The Black Image Corporation,” curated by Theaster Gates, on view at the Fondazione Prada Osservatorio through January 2019.

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Photo by Delfino Sisto Legnani and Marco Cappelletti. Courtesy Fondazione Prada

Exhibition view of “The Black Image Corporation,” curated by Theaster Gates, on view at the Fondazione Prada Osservatorio through January 2019.

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Courtesy Johnson Publishing Company

Photo by Moneta Sleet Jr., 1965. Featured in “The Black Image Corporation,” curated by Theaster Gates, on view at the Fondazione Prada Osservatorio through January 2019.

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Courtesy Johnson Publishing Company

Photo by Moneta Sleet Jr., 1968. Featured in “The Black Image Corporation,” curated by Theaster Gates, on view at the Fondazione Prada Osservatorio through January 2019.

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Courtesy Johnson Publishing Company

Photo by Moneta Sleet Jr., n.d. Featured in “The Black Image Corporation,” curated by Theaster Gates, on view at the Fondazione Prada Osservatorio through January 2019.

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Photo by Delfino Sisto Legnani and Marco Cappelletti. Courtesy Fondazione Prada

Jet magazines in an exhibition view of “The Black Image Corporation,” curated by Theaster Gates, on view at the Fondazione Prada Osservatorio through January 2019.

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Courtesy Johnson Publishing Company

Photo by Moneta Sleet Jr., 1964. Featured in “The Black Image Corporation,” curated by Theaster Gates, on view at the Fondazione Prada Osservatorio through January 2019.