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Amos, Emma  

American, 20th century, female.

Born 1938, in Atlanta.

Painter, draughtswoman, print artist, photographer. Mosaics, posters.

Spiral Group.

Emma Amos studied at Antioch College, Yellow Springs, Ohio, the Central School of Art, London, and New York University. She started her career as a fabric designer. From ...


Anderson, Akili Ron  

American, 20th – 21st century, male.

Born 19 February 1946, in Washington DC.

Painter, sculptor, draughtsman, engraver, photographer, video artist, glassmaker, decorative designer. Theatre design.

AfriCobra Group.

Akili Ron Anderson attended the Corcoran School of Art and Howard University in Washington DC where he lives and works. He is a member of AfriCobra (African Commune of Bad Relevant Artists) founded in ...


Andrews, Benny  

American, 20th century, male.

Born 13 November 1930, in Plainview (Georgia); died 10 November 2006, in New York (New York).

Painter, collage artist, installation artist, sculptor, photographer, illustrator, draughtsman, watercolourist, print artist. Figures, portraits, interiors with figures, landscapes, animals.

Black Emergency Cultural Coalition, Rhino Horn Group

African-American artist Benny Andrews was the second of ten children born to George and Viola Andrews in the small rural farming town of Plainview, Georgia. He served in the US Air Force during the Korean War. Upon his honorable discharge, Andrews moved to Chicago and studied at the Art Institute of Chicago, graduating with a BFA in 1958. He then moved to New York, where, in 1969, with Cliff Joseph and Valerie Maynard, he founded the Black Emergency Cultural Coalition (BECC), the aim of which was to force the major museums to include work by African-American artists in their shows. Andrews helped organize protests of several major museum shows including the Whitney Museum of American Art’s ...


Avedon, Richard  

American, 20th century, male.

Born 15 May 1923, in New York City; died 1 October 2004, in San Antonio, Texas.

Photographer, photojournalist. Portraits, fashion, news.

Born to a merchant of women’s clothing, Avedon was exposed to fashion and its consumers from an early age. He greatly admired the work of Hungarian fashion photographer Martin Munkasci, who exploited photography’s new ability to capture the immediacy of motion. After serving in the US Merchant Marines ...


Ball, James Presley  

American, 19th century, male.

Born in 1825, in Virginia; died in 1905, in Honolulu, Hawaii.

Photographer (daguerreotypes). Portraits, genre subjects, architectural subjects.

Born a free man in Virginia, James Presley Ball became one of the first African American photographers after learning the daguerreotype process from the Bostonian John B. Bailey, also an African American, in ...


Bannister, Edward Mitchell  

Canadian, 19th century, male.

Born 2 November 1828, in St Andrews (New Brunswick); died 9 January 1901, in Providence (Rhode Island).

Painter, draughtsman, watercolourist, engraver, photographer. Portraits, religious subjects, genre scenes, landscapes, seascapes, still-lifes.

Bannister's father was form Barbados and his mother was Scottish. He was born in Canada right after slavery was abolished. He went to live in New York were he was a sailor and settled in Boston in ...


Billops, Camille  

American, 20th century, female.

Born 1934, in Los Angeles.

Sculptor, ceramicist, draughtswoman, print artist, photographer, film maker. Figures, scenes with figures. Murals.

Camille Billops has a BA from California State College and an MFA from City College in New York. She settled in New York, where in ...


Cowans, Adger W.  

American, 20th century, male.

Born 19 September 1936, in Columbus (Ohio).

Painter, print artist, photographer, film maker. Murals.

AfriCobra Group.

Adger W. Cowans studied at Ohio University, Athens, Ohio, obtaining his BFA in photography. He then enrolled in the US Navy as a photographer. He was active in the civil rights movement and joined AfriCobra, the African Commune of Bad Relevant Artists. In ...


Duncanson, Robert Scott  

African American, 19th century, male.

Active in the United Kingdom and Canada.

Born 1821, in Seneca County (New York), or 1822 according to some sources; died 21 December 1872, in Detroit (Michigan).

Painter, watercolourist, photographer. Figures, portraits, genre scenes, landscapes, urban townscapes, still-lifes, mural compositions. Hudson River School...


Gammon, Reginald Adolphus  

American, 20th century, male.

Born 31 March 1921, in Philadelphia.

Painter, photographer. Figure compositions, figures, portraits.

Spiral Group.

Reginald Gammon studied at the Philadelphia Museum College of Art and the Tyler School of Fine Arts, Philadelphia. He was a member of the Spiral Group and the Black Emergency Cultural Coalition (BECC), two groups of African-American artists created during the 1960s. While the ...


Green, Renée  

American, 20th – 21st century, female.

Born 1959, in Cleveland, Ohio.

Installation artist, video artist, film maker.

Identity Art.

Renée Green attended the School of Visual Arts in New York in 1980, and received a BA from Wesleyan University in 1981. She has taught at the Akademie der Bildenden Künste in Vienna (...


Harleston, Edwin Augustus  

American, 19th – 20th century, male.

Born 1882, in Charleston; died 5 May 1931, in Charleston.

Painter, photographer. Figures, portraits, landscapes, still-lifes (flowers). Murals.

Edwin Augustus Harleston studied at Atlanta University, the Boston Museum of Fine Arts School (1906-1912) and Harvard University. He opened a photography studio with his wife, Elise, in Charleston. In ...


Hendricks, Barkley L.  

American, 20th–21st century, male.

Born 16 April 1945, in Philadelphia; died 18 April 2017, in New London (Connecticut).

Painter, watercolourist, draughtsman, photographer, collage artist. Figures, nudes, portraits, landscapes.

Barkley L. Hendricks studied at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, and Yale University. He began teaching at Connecticut College, New London, in 1972. He painted life-size solitary figures such as Cool Raymond or New Orleans Niggah, where great care is given to the details of his models’ dress whilst their facial expressions suggest a sometimes melancholy remoteness. His permanent variations on the theme of African American figures invite us to question first impressions, says Floyd R. Thomas, curator of the National Afro-American Museum and Cultural Center in Wilberforce, Ohio: ‘He challenges us to explore our own reactions to the people whose portraits he paints. Why do I perceive them as I do? How do we differ; how are we the same? What are they thinking and why?’ An effect of presence-absence is achieved by showing his figures against a monochrome background, often the white on white he is famous for. The contrast between white suits and black skin, the shadow cast by a hat, the reflection caught in sunglasses ‘colour’ their presence. Their challenge to the viewer is the greater for the size of the canvas, which brings them face to face with the person represented. He took part in the exhibitions ...


Lion, Jules  

French, 19th century, male.

Active in the USA.

Born 1810, in Paris; died 9 January 1866, in New Orleans (Louisiana), USA.

Lithographer, painter, photographer. Portraits, city scenes, landscapes.

Jules Lion exhibited lithographs at the Paris Salon from 1831 to 1836. He arrived in New Orleans in ...


Parks, Gordon  

American, 20th century, male.

Born 30 November 1912, in Fort Scott, Kansas; died 7 March 2006, in New York City.

Photographer and filmmaker, writer, composer. Portraits, photojournalism, social photography.

Gordon Parks broke through racial boundaries in his long career as a photographer, filmmaker, author, and composer. Parks was first drawn to photography through published photographs of migrant workers, and by ...


Pindell, Howardena  

American, 20th century, female.

Born 14 April 1943, in Philadelphia.

Painter, watercolourist, pastellist, assemblage artist, mosaicist, photographer, video artist.

Howardena Pindell studied at Boston University, then at the Yale University School of Art and Architecture. She has lived and worked in New York since 1967. After working as a conservator at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, she has been teaching at the State University of New York at Stony Brook since 1979. She is actively engaged in politics and the feminist movement and was one of the founders of the A.I.R Gallery, a women artists’ cooperative in New York....


Simpson, Lorna  

American, 20th–21st century, female.

Born 1960, in Brooklyn (New York).

Engraver, photographer, mixed media, installation artist.

Conceptual Art, Identity Art.

Lorna Simpson is an African American artist who combines texts and photographs of black women to explore the experience of African American women in contemporary society. The artist also makes sound installations.

Simpson studied at the University of San Diego and then at the New York School of Visual Arts. She began as a photo-journalist and her work has retained a connection between photograph and text. Simpson’s work portrays the black female body, and its frequent encounters with micro-aggressions and projected stereotypes of black female sexuality. In the series Guarded Conditions (1989–1990), which includes a photograph of a black woman dressed in a large nightshirt or cotton dress, the model is shown six times, while a text printed as a caption alternates the words ‘sex attack’ with the words ‘skin attacks’, inferring that the woman has been sexually attacked because of the colour of her skin and that the condition of being a black woman predisposes her to becoming a rape victim....


Sligh, Clarissa  

American, 20th century, female.

Born 30 August 1939, in Washington DC.

Photographer, book artist. Contemporary Art, identity, politics, race, gender.

As a child, Sligh attended segregated schools in predominantly white areas of Virginia County. When she was 15 years old, she was the lead plaintiff in the 1955 court case Clarissa Thompson et. al. vs. Arlington County School Board, which sought to desegregate public schools across the state of Virginia.

As a student, Sligh had a wide range of academic interests. In 1961, she earned a bachelor’s of science degree in mathematics at Hampton University (Virginia). She received her bachelor’s degree in visual arts from Howard University in Washington, DC, and studied painting at The Skowhegan School of Art in Maine in 1972. The following year, Sligh earned her master’s in business administration from the esteemed Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. Before becoming an artist, Sligh worked for NASA’s manned space flight programme, as well as in the field of business in New York. In ...


Van Vechten, Carl  

American, 20th century, male.

Born 17 June 1880, in Cedar Rapids, Iowa; died 21 December 1964, in New York City.

Photographer, writer. Portraits.

Carl Van Vechten graduated from the University of Chicago in 1903 with a degree in English, during which time he began a successful three-decade career as an arts critic and author of more than fourteen books ...



American, 20th century, male.

Born 12 June 1899, in Lemberg, Austria (now Lviv, Ukraine); died 26 December 1968, in New York.

Photographer, photojournalist. Portraiture, fashion photography, abstractions, film.

Born Usher Fellig, the boy who would become Weegee received an Anglicized name upon his family’s immigration to America in ...