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Article

Deborah Cullen

(Henry) [Spinky]

(b Charlotte, NC, Nov 29, 1907; d April 27, 1977).

African American painter, sculptor, graphic artist, muralist and educator. In 1913, Charles Alston’s family relocated from North Carolina to New York where he attended DeWitt Clinton High School. In 1929, he attended Columbia College and then Teachers College at Columbia University, where he obtained his MFA in 1931. Alston’s art career began while he was a student, creating illustrations for Opportunity magazine and album covers for jazz musician Duke Ellington.

Alston was a groundbreaking educator and mentor. He directed the Harlem Arts Workshop and then initiated the influential space known simply as “306,” which ran from 1934 to 1938. He taught at the Works Progress Administration’s Harlem Community Art Center and was supervisor of the Harlem Hospital Center murals, leading 35 artists as the first African American project supervisor of the Federal Art Project. His two murals reveal the influence of Mexican muralist Diego Rivera (1886–1957). His artwork ranged from the comic to the abstract, while often including references to African art. During World War II, he worked at the Office of War Information and Public Information, creating cartoons and posters to mobilize the black community in the war effort....

Article

Dennis Raverty

(b Charlotte, NC, Sept 2, 1911 or 1912; d New York City, Mar 12, 1988).

African American painter, collagist, and author. Bearden is best known for his collages, which often addressed urban themes (e.g. The Dove). He was a founding member of Spiral, a group of African American artists who started meeting at his downtown New York studio in 1963. He also published essays and cartoons, designed book jackets, magazine and album covers, and is widely regarded as the first African American artist to successfully enter the mainstream of the contemporary art world. The posthumously published book he co-authored with Harry Henderson, A History of African-American Artists: From 1792 to the Present (1993), in a very short time became an almost canonical text in the field.

Bearden’s family moved permanently to Harlem, a predominately black neighborhood of New York City, in 1920. His mother, Bessye Bearden, was the New York correspondent for the Chicago Defender, an African American newspaper, and through her Bearden was introduced to many of the artists, writers, and intellectuals associated with the ...

Article

American, 20th century, male.

Born 2 September 1911, in Charlotte (North Carolina); died 12 March 1988, in New York.

Painter (including gouache), watercolourist, lithographer, screen printer, engraver, collage artist, newspaper cartoonist, illustrator, art theorist. Religious subjects, figure compositions, local figures. Humorous cartoons, frontispieces, stage sets...

Article

American, 20th century, female.

Born 1 November 1917, in St Rose (Louisiana).

Sculptor (bronze), engraver, painter, illustrator, watercolourist, writer. Figures, portraits, genre scenes.

Margaret T.G. Burroughs studied at the Art Institute of Chicago and Illinois State University. In 1961, Burroughs and her husband founded the Ebony Museum of Negro History and Art at their home in Chicago. The museum remains under Burroughs' directorship, but was later renamed the DuSable Museum of African American History. In ...

Article

American, 20th century, female.

Active in France.

Born 26 June 1939, in Philadelphia.

Sculptor, painter, print artist, illustrator, writer.

Barbara Chase-Riboud received her BFA from Temple University, Philadelphia, and her MFA from Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut. She also studied in Rome. She has lived and worked in Paris since ...

Article

American, 20th century, male.

Born 13 January 1937, in Sawyerville (Alabama).

Painter, watercolourist, art historian.

Floyd Coleman studied at Alabama State College, Montgomery, the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and the University of Georgia, Athens, where he received his doctorate in 1975. He has taught at Howard University, Washington, DC. At the beginning of his career, Coleman painted brightly coloured abstracts with thick, lyrical calligraphic drawing. After he visited Africa in ...

Article

American, 20th century, male.

Born 7 June 1931, in Eatonton (Georgia).

Painter, draughtsman (including ink), collage artist, print artist, sculptor, collector, art historian. Religious subjects, figures, portraits, figure compositions, scenes with figures, landscapes. Designs for stained glass.

David C. Driskell earned a BFA at Howard University in ...

Article

American, 20th – 21st century, male.

Born 1948, in Ohio.

Painter, lithographer, art historian.

AfriCobra Group.

Michael D. Harris studied at Howard University, Washington DC, before earning a PhD from Yale University. He is a member of the group AfriCobra (African Commune of Bad Relevant Artists), which promotes an art in the service and for the advancement of the Afro-American community. He began teaching at the University of North Carolina in ...

Article

American, 20th century, female.

Born 27 February 1924, in New Orleans.

Painter, draughtswoman, watercolourist, print artist (including linocuts), sculptor, art historian. Figures, portraits, genre scenes, landscapes.

Samella Lewis studied with Elizabeth Catlett at Dillard University, New Orleans, and Hampton Institute, Hampton, Virginia. In 1951 she obtained her doctorate from Ohio State University, Columbus, the first African-American woman to receive her doctorate in art history and fine art. In ...

Article

Jordana Moore Saggese

African American painter, performance artist, mixed-media artist, and writer. Pindell studied painting at Boston University, where she received a BFA in 1965, and also attended Yale University School of Art and Architecture, where she received an MFA in 1967. Throughout her career Pindell worked in and experimented with a variety of media, including painting, photography, text, printmaking, and video....

Article

Nikki A. Greene

(Amos)

(b Baltimore, MD, Dec 22, 1905; d Washington, DC, Feb 28, 1970).

American art historian, critic, educator and painter. Porter greatly influenced African American art and scholarship. He immediately began teaching art at Howard University, Washington, DC, upon graduation in 1926. He later continued his art training in New York, where he worked toward a degree at Teachers College and enrolled at the Art Students League in 1929, studying figure drawing with George Bridgman (1865–1943). He received a Master of Arts degree in Art History from the Fine Arts Graduate Center at New York University in 1937. Porter also received numerous awards and fellowships, including the Carnegie Foundation Institute of International Education scholarship for study in Paris and a Rockefeller Foundation grant for study in Belgium, Holland, Germany and Italy in 1935.

In 1953, Porter became Head of the Department of Art and Director of the Art Gallery at Howard University, the first of its kind established at a black institution. Under his leadership, he organized many important exhibitions, and the gallery expanded its collection of not only African American artists, but also Renaissance paintings and sculpture. His own work included realist oil paintings, pastels, watercolors and prints, with a keen interest in the human figure. Between ...

Article

American, 20th century, male.

Born 22 December 1905, in Baltimore (Maryland); died 28 February 1971, in Washington DC.

Painter, draughtsman, watercolourist, pastellist, illustrator, art historian. Figures, portraits, still-lifes. Murals, cartoons.

James Amos Porter Senior studied at Howard University in Washington DC, at Columbia University Teachers College in New York, and at the Art Students League and New York University in New York. He also studied in Europe. He taught at Howard University and was director of its Art Gallery ...