Cover for This Morning, This Evening, So Soon: James Baldwin and the Voices of Queer Resistance
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution
This Morning, This Evening, So Soon: James Baldwin and the Voices of Queer Resistance
Portrayals of James Baldwin and others in his circle highlight the iconic writer’s activism.
Edited with text by Hilton Als, Rhea L. Combs. Foreword by Rhea L. Combs
Designed by Polymode
Published 2024 | ISBN: 9781636811321

The American writer and activist James Baldwin (1924–87) considered himself a “witness” as he challenged perspectives on America and its history through his work. He was often recognized for speaking out against injustice when other like-minded artists, collaborators and organizers were overshadowed or silenced. By bringing together artworks that feature James Baldwin alongside portraits of other key figures who had an impact on his life, This Morning, This Evening, So Soon situates Baldwin among a pantheon of culture bearers who were instrumental in shaping his life and legacy, particularly in relationship to his advocacy for gay rights. The book accompanies an exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, DC, curated by the National Portrait Gallery’s Director of Curatorial Affairs, Rhea L. Combs, in consultation with Pulitzer Prize–winning author Hilton Als. Well-known portraits by Beauford Delaney and Bernard Gotfryd are shown alongside paintings, photographs and films representing key figures in Baldwin’s circle. By viewing Baldwin in this context of community, readers will come to understand how Baldwin’s sexuality and faith, artistic curiosities and notions of masculinity—coupled with his involvement in the civil rights movement—helped shape his writing and long-lasting legacy.

The book relies on portraiture to explore the interwoven lives of Baldwin, Lorraine Hansberry (writer and activist), Barbara Jordan (lawyer, educator and politician), Bayard Rustin (leader in social movements), Lyle Ashton Harris (artist), Essex Hemphill (poet and activist), Marlon Riggs (filmmaker, poet and activist) and Nina Simone (singer-songwriter, pianist and activist), among others.

Artists include: Richard Avedon, Glenn Ligon, Donald Moffett, Beauford Delaney, Bernard Gotfryd, Faith Ringgold, Lorna Simpson, Jack Whitten.