the singular, national, voice of diversity in art + design

   
   

 

 

 

 

 

 

New York, NY

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.10. CHARLES WHITE: A RETROSPECTIVE

Now open at The Museum of Modern Art.

Charles White (1918 - 1979) was an artist's artist. A gifted draftsman, painter, and printmaker, he was also an educator and civil rights advocate whose star loomed as large as his portrait subjects and his circle of friends. He taught and mentored Kerry James Marshall and David Hammons. Harry Belafonte was a friend, collaborator, collector and portrait subject. At his memorial service in 1979, his friend Sidney Poitier delivered the eulogy. Internationally renowned by the time of his passing, White had - according to his New York Times obituary - 'work in 49 museums...123 exhibitions, 53 one-man shows and 39 American and European awards.'

Now, some 40-years after his death, one of the most celebrated and influential African American artists of the twentieth century, has received a career retrospective. Charles White: A Retrospective, now on view at The Museum of Modern Art, (MoMA) features 100 drawings, paintings, prints and ephemera that (re)introduce the world to his amazing body of work - a powerful, silent sermon on the beauty and humanity of African American people and culture. White had a lifelong goal of combating what he referred to as “a plague of distortions, stereotyped and superficial caricatures of ‘uncles,’ ‘mammies,’ and ‘pickaninnies’” in popular visual culture. This stance - using paint as a push-back to ugly racial stereotypes - developed early on.

As a teenager, White was exposed to Alain Locke’s “New Negro,” philosophy at gathering of artists on Chicago’s South Side. There, he met and befriended author Richard Wright. As an adult, he met and married sculptor Elizabeth Catlett. The couple lived in New York City in the 194os and circulated among the well-known African American artists and intellectuals of the time, including Langston Hughes, Jacob Lawrence and W. E. B. DuBois. White lived, created and taught in Chicago, New York, and Los Angeles. The exhibition covers all three artistic centers revealing a masterful navigation of four tumultuous decades of American history.

Charles White was organized by MoMA and The Art Institute of Chicago. Howard University loaned two works, including Five Great American Negroes, 1939, White’s first mural. White was an artist-in-residence at Howard in 1945 and a distinguished professor in 1978. Hampton University and the Pamela and Harry Belafonte collection also loaned works. The show travels in 2019 to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), where it will be on view from February 17 - June 9, 2019.

On view through JAN 13, 2019. .....MORE: Art Institute of Chicago video featuring White's son.

 

 

 

 

 

Washington, DC

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11. GORDON PARKS: The New Tide, Early Work, 1940-1950

 

Langston Hughes by Gordon Parks, Chicago, December 1941, gelatin silver print image: 13 1/8 x 10 5/8 in. Charles White in front of his mural "Chaos of the American Negro," by Gordon Parks, 1941, gelatin silver print image: 8 11/16 x 9 7/16 in. The Charles White Archives. Both photos Courtesy of and copyright The Gordon Parks Foundation

 

Opened NOV 4, 2018 at The National Gallery of Art.

Gordon Parks (1912–2006) lived an incredible life of firsts. He was the first African American photographer at Life magazine in 1949 and the first African American director of a major Hollywood film, "The Learning Tree" in 1969. Within just a decade, he grew from a self-taught portrait photographer and photojournalist in Saint Paul and Chicago to a visionary professional working in New York for Ebony and Glamour.

For the first time, this lesser-known formative period of Parks's long and illustrious career is the subject of an exhibition, Gordon Parks: The New Tide, Early Work 1940–1950, now on view at the National Gallery of Art. The exhibition details Parks's early evolution through 150 photographs, rare magazines, newspapers, pamphlets, and books. Evident, is how Parks influenced and was inspired by a network of creative and intellectual figures - including Charles White, Roy Stryker, Langston Hughes and Richard Wright.

The first section, A Choice of Weapons, 1940–1942, opens with some of the elegant society portraits that established Parks's career. After moving with his wife and two children to Chicago in early 1941, Parks was given access to studio space and a darkroom in the South Side Community Art Center (SSCAC). Established with support from the Works Progress Administration's Federal Art Project, the SSCAC was the epicenter of Chicago's African American art scene.

There he developed relationships with other artists - many who taught at the center. Charles White encouraged him to document the surrounding South Side neighborhood. This section includes Parks's portraits of influential figures, such as SSCAC director, Peter Pollack and philosophy professor and architect of the New Negro movement, Alain Locke, and opera singer Todd Duncan.

The next sections covers Parks’s projects for the Office of War Information and the Standard Oil Company. Mass Media, 1945–1950, focuses on his work for major fashion magazines and early photo essays for Life. Ralph Ellison, the renowned author of "Invisible Man," collaborated with Parks in 1948 on “Harlem is Nowhere,” an article that connects poverty, segregation, and mental health. In his first two years at Life, he photographed couture fashion in Paris and actress Ingrid Bergman on the set of the film Stromboli, and documented segregation, street life, and poverty from Puerto Rico and Fort Scott to Paris and Portugal.

On view thru February 18, 2019.

 

 

 

Baltimore, MD

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12. ROMARE BEARDEN: .....VISIONARY ARTIST

Opened NOV 11, 2018 at the Reginald F. Lewis Museum.

Romare Bearden (1911 - 1988) is one of America’s most important artists. He is among the best-known 20th century African American painters - a distinction shared with Jacob Lawrence. The artist is so widely celebrated, his Charlotte, North Carolina hometown opened a public park in his name.

Bearden's coloful, painted photomontages, are imbued with visual metaphors, and present complex images of African American life from multiple perspectives. With technique, artistic mastery and a signature style, he single-handedly elevated the medium of collage and became the nation’s foremost collagist.

Bearden was also an educator, scholar, writer, songwriter, and activist. Now his influence and work as a socially and politically-conscious artist, is the focus of a brand new exhibition.

Romare Bearden: Visionary Artist, now on view at the Reginald F. Lewis Museum, features 70 works - original collage, watercolor, sketches, limited edition prints, reproductions, and rare archival items, many of them from Maryland collectors. Also included are magazine covers and editorial cartoons Bearden created when he was employed at the Baltimore AFRO-American Newspaper from 1935 to 1937.

Steadfastly devoted to the African American community, Bearden and a group of black artists formed the Spiral Collective to discuss their role in the civil rights movement. The group attended the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom on August 28, 1963. Throughout his prolific career, he agitated for change, creating amazing images to counter to racial stereotypes.

In her immersive biography, "An American Odyssey," Mary Schmidt Campbell details Bearden's relationship between art and race as central to his life and work. The author met Bearden in the 1970s, and was among the first to compile a catalog of his works. Campbell, President of Spelman College and Dean Emerita of the Tisch School of the Arts, makes a December stop at the museum.

On view through March 3, 2019. MORE.

 

 

 

     

Romare Bearden: Trending

read more about the artist in our 2017 feature

 

Wil Haygood curates Harlem Renaissance exhibition

best-selling author of "The Butler" tackles new role

 

 

   

Howardena Pindell Interview

Must-See Exhibitions '18 .... page1

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