fbpx Biennale Arte 2022 | Josephine Baker
La Biennale di Venezia

Your are here

Josephine Baker

1906, USA – 1975, France


  • TUE - SUN
    23/04 > 25/09
    11 AM - 7 PM

    27/09 > 27/11
    10 AM - 6 PM
  • Central Pavilion
  • Admission with ticket

Costumes so skimpy as to hardly be there, brazenly sensual movements, a short, slick hairdo: these were recurring elements in the performances of Josephine Baker, the American-born singer and dancer who rose to international fame in the 1930s as a symbol of Black talent and pride. After growing up extremely poor in the hostile, segregated southern Midwest, and getting her theatrical start with mediocre vaudeville troupes, Baker moved to Paris in 1925; there, at nineteen, she debuted at the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées in her first cabaret show, Revue nègre. The set, costume, and props were a compendium of clichés about African culture: whirling banana skirts, palm trees, masks, garishly coloured fruit, and even a cheetah named Chiquita. In silent footage of Baker dancing at the famous Parisian music hall Folies Bergère, she performs an exuberant Charleston: bare-breasted, dripping jewellery, and dressed in an eccentric plumed costume, Baker’s sensuality and eroticism are offset by the clowning facial expressions that remained her hallmark up until the 1950s. After World War II, Baker memorably refused to perform for a segregated audience, responded publicly to threats from the KKK, and spoke at the 1963 March on Washington alongside Dr. Martin Luther King. 

Stefano Mudu

Central Pavilion
See on Google Maps

Share this page on

Biennale Arte
Biennale Arte