Africobra and the Black Aesthetic

COBRA (Coalition of Black Revolutionary Artists) was later known as AfriCOBRA (African Comune Of Bad Relevant Artists) formed in Chicago. Artists dealt with Black history narratives and struggles for equality on social, economic, and political levels. Through the use of African symbolism and hieroglyphics, bold patterns, and vivid palettes, the works connected to the viewer which was mostly working-class Blacks.


  1. Jeff Donaldson (1932-2004) Donaldson was a founding member of AfriCOBRA. He taught art in Chicago public schools while earning a Masters in art education at Illinois Institute of Technology. His style was self described as “Trans-African” and became a model for AFriCOBRA’s aesthetics.


Wives of Shango, 1969 – Image of West African god Shango’s warrior wives, signifying armed resistance. Their style reflects the Black Power Movement with Kongo textile patterns.


  1. David Hammons (1943-) Started creating agitprop art in the late 1960s after witnessing the Watts riots in Los Angeles.


Injustice Case, 1970, body print, Los Angeles County Museum of Art  – profile of Hammons body bound and gagged with American flag. This image references the “gagging” of Black Panther Bobby Seale during his trial for conspiracy and inciting a riot. Seale repeatedly protested the trial and charges prompting the judge to have Seale bound and gagged and sentenced to 4 years for contempt. This piece nods to the larger injustices with the American justice system.