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Article

Adrienne Childs

(b Eatonton, GA, June 7, 1931).

African American painter, professor of art, art historian, curator and collector. Driskell’s career as an art historian, curator, and practicing artist has been central to the development of the field of African American art. Driskell studied art and art history at Howard University, Washington, DC, between 1952 and 1955. In 1953 he studied at the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture. Driskell received an MFA from Catholic University in 1962. Taking the charge from his mentor, Howard University professor James A. Porter, Driskell dedicated his career to uncovering, documenting, and teaching the history of black artists in America. Driskell taught art and art history at Talladega College, Howard University, Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee, and the University of Maryland at College Park, where he retired in 1998 as a Distinguished University Professor of Art. In 2000 President William H. Clinton awarded Driskell the National Humanities Medal for his extraordinary contributions to American cultural life and thought. Driskell became an academician of the National Academy in ...

Article

Dennis Raverty

(b Birmingham, AL, Oct 17, 1955).

African American painter, writer, film production designer, and multimedia installation artist. Marshall’s works portray idealized subjects derived from African American experience in large-scale, multiple-figure paintings and installations that share many characteristics with European history painting in the “grand manner” of Peter Paul Rubens, Benjamin West, Jacques-Louis David, and the 19th-century academic tradition. This “high culture” Euro-American tradition is juxtaposed with elements of African American vernacular culture in order to reinsert African American subjects and aesthetics into the larger mainstream of America’s artistic and cultural history—a history from which, the artist believes, blacks have been largely excluded.

Marshall was born in Birmingham, AL, one of the most segregated cities in the United States at that time, and the site of civil rights demonstrations in the early 1960s. He moved with his parents in 1963 to Nickerson Gardens public housing project in Watts, CA, just a few years before the riots there. Consequently, the struggles of the civil rights movement profoundly affected him and are a major theme in his mature work....

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 ...