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The Fire Next Time

Modern and Contemporary Art

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The Fire Next Time

Artwork Details


Alfredo Jaar
Chilean, born 1956




Twenty-two metal light boxes with black-and-white transparencies

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Currently Not on View


When Alfredo Jaar arrived in New York from his native Chile in 1981, he was shocked at the pervasiveness of racial inequality in the United States. Using enlarged and fractured newspaper photographs of demonstrations of the 1960s, Jaar presents a frenzied view of the struggle in The Fire Next Time, a title co-opted from James Baldwin’s 1962 novel of the same name. The chaotic stacking of light boxes—each roughly the size of a person or coffin—reflects the turbulence of the 1960s. The precarious balance of the boxes also symbolizes the continued uneasiness of race relations today.


Purchase with funds from the National Endowment for the Arts, the 20th-Century Art Acquisition Fund, and funds from Alfred Austell Thornton in memory of Leila Austell Thornton and Albert Edward Thornton, Sr., and Sarah Miller Venable and William Hoyt Venable

Image Copyright

© Alfredo Jaar