Installation view of “5+1,” 1969

A cord crosses the floor of the "5+1" gallery and ends in a coil.

Photograph by Tina Tranter. © Estate of Tina Tranter. Courtesy Frank Bowling Archive.

Bowling befriended several Downtown New York City–based African American artists, some of whom would become coexhibitors in “5+1.” Bowling regularly wrote art criticism, sometimes focusing on the work of these artists and the ways they rewrote and advanced modernist tradition.

Reflecting on “5+1” in an article for Arts Magazine that followed his earlier three-part essay on issues in the museum presentation and critical reception of Black art in the United States, and which as written apropos of the MFA’s presentation of “Afro-American Artists: New York and Boston,” Bowling wrote that “‘5+1’ had the avowed intention to once and for all put a stop to all those rotten ethnic shows.”