James Barnor

Born in Ghana in 1929, James Barnor opened his renowned Ever Young studio in Accra, where he immortalized a nation at the moment of its independence. He was one of the first photojournalists to collaborate with The Daily Graphic, a newspaper published in Ghana by London’s Daily Mirror Group. In 1959, two years after Ghana’s independence, Barnor moved to London to deepen his technical knowledge of the medium. He discovered colour photography at the Medway College of Art and his pictures were published on the front page of Drum, an important magazine founded in South Africa in 1951 and symbol of the anti-apartheid movement. He eloquently captured the spirit of Swinging London and the experiences of the African diaspora in the British capital. In the late 1960s, he was recruited by Agfa-Gevaert and returned to Ghana to set up the country’s first colour laboratory. He stayed there for the next twenty years, working in his new Studio X23 as a freelance photographer and for state agencies in Accra. Today, Barnor lives in the United Kingdom and devotes most of his time to his work, in a spirit of transmission.

Barnor’s work has in recent years inspired a new generation of artists and given rise to numerous exhibitions and publications, including an important retrospective, James Barnor: Accra/London. This exhibition, curated by Hans Ulrich-Obrist, Lizzie Carey-Thomas and Awa Konaté, was recently presented at the Serpentine North Gallery (May-October 2021). It is set to travel to the Museo d’Arte della Svizzera Italiana, Lugano, Switzerland in 2022 and to the Detroit Institute of Art, MI, USA in 2023.

Recent Solo Shows

2021 James Barnor, Bristol Museum & Art Gallery, Bristol, Great Britain

2021 James Barnor : Accra/London – A Retrospective, Serpentine Gallery, London, Great Britain

2019- 2020 James Barnor: A Retrospective, Nubuke Foundation, Accra, Ghana

2019 La vie selon James Barnor, Gerard Sekoto Gallery, Johannesburg

2019 Colors, Galerie Clémentine de la Férronnière, Paris

2018 La vie selon James Barnor, Gallery 1957 Kempinski Hotel, Accra, Ghana

2018 La vie selon James Barnor, Mupho Musée de la Photographie de Saint-Louis, Saint Louis, Sénégal

2017-2018 It’s great to be young, photographies de James Barnor et Marc Riboud, Galerie Clémentine de la Féronnière, Paris

2017-2018 Ever Young, Musée du quai Branly, vitrine jardin, Paris

2017-2018 La vie selon James Barnor, 11e biennale des Rencontres de Bamako, Bamako, Mali

2015 Ever Young, exposition itinérante (présentée à la Galerie Clémentine de la Féronnière)

2007 Mr Barnor’s Independence Diaries, Black Cultural Archives, Londres

Group Shows

2021 Todd Webb in Africa, Outside the frame, Minneapolis Institute of Art, Harrison Photography Gallery, Minneapolis, United States

2019-2020 20 ANS, Les acquisitions du musée du quai Branly – Jacques Chirac, Musée du quai Branly – Jacques Chirac, Paris

2019 Paris-Londres, Music Migrations (1962- 1989), Musée de la Porte Dorée, Paris

2012 Another London, Tate Modern, London

Collections

2021 Museum of Modern Art, New York

2021 Centre Pompidou, Paris, France

2021 Victoria and Albert Museum, London, UK

2021 Detroit Institute of Arts, MI, USA

2020 Smart Museum of Art at the University of Chicago, IL, USA

2017 National Portrait Gallery, London, UK

2016 Musée du quoi Branly, Paris, France

2015 Tate Modern, London, UK

2015 V&A, Victoria and Albert Musem, London, UK

Bibliography

James Barnor, The Roadmaker, Maison CF & RRB Photobooks, 2021

James Barnor : Accra/London – A retrospective, Koenig Books, 2021

Todd Webb in Africa, Outside the frame, Thames & Hudson, 2021

Ever Young, James Barnor, coéd ABP/Clémentine de la Féronnière, 2015

Another London, International Photographers Capture City Life 1930-1980, Edited by Helen Delaney and Simon Baker, 2010

Exhibition(s)