Frank Bowling, Night Journey, 1969–70

An abstract painting in the colors of black, red, green, yellow, and blue, with imagery of the continents of South America and Africa.

Acrylic on canvas. Lent by the Metropolitan Museum of Art, gift of Maddy and Larry Mohr, 2011. © Frank Bowling. All rights reserved, DACS/Artimage, London & ARS, New York 2022.

In this map painting with a distinctive, brooding palette, South America and Africa appear in geographic relation to one another while continents of the northern hemisphere are out of sight. A bolt of yellow fills the gap between the two visible land masses. Nearly splitting the canvas, its forceful downward thrust can be understood as marking the Middle Passage, the forced sea voyage endured by enslaved peoples taken from West Africa to the Americas, and the journey of the painting’s title.