By Maurice Berger via https://www.nytimes.com
Raphael Albert was a successful British entrepreneur who did more than just promote beauty pageants: he photographed them. Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, he documented pageant life, his images a continuum of enthusiastic contestants strutting down runways in swimsuits, modeling the latest fashions and being crowned.
It might be easy to dismiss Mr. Albert’s photographs as relics from a sexist past. Except for one significant detail: his subjects were black. For these women, members of West London’s Afro-Caribbean communities, pageants nurtured racial pride and self-expression.
These exuberant photographs are the subject of “Raphael Albert: Miss Black and Beautiful,” an exhibition organized by Autograph ABP in London and, now, at Mac Birmingham. Curated by Renée Mussai, the exhibition offers insights into a consequential, but largely…