Award-winning photographer’s first museum retrospective
features over 100 photographs spanning a six-decade career

This summer, the Brandywine Museum of Art will present Frank Stewart's Nexus: An American Photographer's Journey, 1960s to the Present, a dynamic retrospective of Stewart’s compelling photography over his six-decade career. Through more than 100 black-and-white and color photographs, the exhibition centers on Stewart’s spontaneous and sensitive approach to portraying world cultures and Black life in many forms—including music, art, travel, food, and dance. Co-organized by The Phillips Collection (Washington, D.C.) and the Telfair Museums (Savannah, GA), this special exhibition highlights Stewart’s visionary work, which has captured intimate and empathetic images of lives experienced and observed across subjects, cities, and countries. The exhibition will be on view at the Brandywine from June 30 through September 22, 2024.

“With this exhibition, we have a chance to get a sense of the unlimited range and depth of a contemporary genius,” said Fred Moten, a poet, scholar, and professor of performance studies at NYU’s Tisch School of Fine Arts, who co-curated the exhibition with Ruth Fine, formerly of the National Gallery of Art in D.C. “Frank Stewart’s combination of loving care for his subjects and thoughtful consideration of his medium is singular and invaluable.” 

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Organized into thematic groupings, Frank Stewart’s Nexus traces both his explorations of life on the road and the trajectory of his stylistic journey. Born in 1949, Stewart’s nomadic life and vision can be traced to his childhood, with his shifts back and forth from Memphis, Chicago, and New York. The earliest works in the exhibition were taken at the beginning of Stewart’s practice when as a young teenager he photographed and documented the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. Frank Stewart’s Nexus will explore the photographer’s avid experimentation as he captured numerous subjects over the course of half a century. In addition to the many aspects and rituals of Black culture, his interest in world cultures is visible throughout his practice, particularly the impact of his many trips to Africa and Cuba over the years. 

Music—gospel, blues, and jazz—is one of his overarching influences. Stewart traveled internationally with the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra as their senior staff photographer from 1990–2020. Throughout his time with the orchestra, Stewart captured both public performances and candid, personal moments, creating an intimate portrait of some of the most celebrated musicians of our time. Stewart’s well-known photographs of jazz legends Miles Davis, Ahmad Jamal, and Wynton Marsalis are a highlight of the exhibition, on display with candid shots of other artists in their workplaces. 

Frank Stewart's Nexus: An American Photographer's Journey, 1960s to the Present

“This exhibition explores Stewart’s celebratory attitude to life, often with a touch of irony,” added co-curator Ruth Fine. “The theme of intimate and subtle relations between and among people is essential to Stewart’s art. His responses to the human dilemma reflect his ability to gain trust from those with whom he interacts—both friends and strangers.” The exhibition also provides a window into less-explored aspects of Stewart's practice, including his works focused on environmental catastrophes, including the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans between 2005–07 and the devastating fires in California and the Pacific Northwest. 

The Brandywine Museum of Art will be the fourth and final stop for this exhibition, which previously traveled to The Phillips Collection in Washington, D.C.; Artis-Naples, The Baker Museum in Naples, FL; and Telfair Museums, Savannah, GA. This project is supported in part by the National Endowment for the Arts. The exhibition is accompanied by the artist's first complete monograph published by Rizzoli Electa, which includes contributions by Frank Stewart, Mary Schmidt Campbell, Ruth Fine, Fred Moten, Cheryl Finley, and Wynton Marsalis.