African-American Art

with an emphasis on representational art


This section of the Traditional Fine Arts Organization (TFAO) catalogue Topics in American Art is devoted to the topic "African-American Art." Articles and essays specific to this topic published in TFAO's Resource Library are listed at the beginning of the section. Clicking on titles takes readers directly to these articles and essays. The date at the end of each title is the Resource Library publication date.

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Articles and essays from Resource Library in chronological order:


Themes and Variations: It's What Artists Do; essay by Will South (4/6/16) Themes and Variations was written to accompany the 2016 exhibit REMIX: Themes and Variations in African-American Art, on view at the Columbia Museum of Art. Excerpt from the essay: " The 45 works in REMIX: Themes and Variations in African-American Art illustrate how art reflects this ongoing tension between innovation and change and the cultural search for stability and continuity. A result of this tension is that the stories we tell get updated: The hero of one age becomes the hero of another only with a different mask, costume, and language. His or her adventures take on different details, but the story is nonetheless familiar." Article includes wall text.

This is the REMIX; essay by Jonell Logan (4/6/16) This essay was written to accompany the 2016 exhibit REMIX: Themes and Variations in African-American Art, on view at the Columbia Museum of Art. Excerpt from the essay:: "Held as humankind's highest form of creative expression, painting and sculpture are strictly organized and monetized by the art world. The benchmark by which all artwork is compared is European art -- specifically painting from the Renaissance. From Greek and Roman sculptors to Michelangelo; from Goya to Gauguin; and even from Pollock to Hirst, the art world master narrative is constructed through the European lens -- in spite of artistic traditions from Africa and other non-western communities.... While some may argue that an exhibition of only African-American artists excludes portions of the creative community, I would like to offer an alternative consideration. REMIX: Themes and Variations in African-American Art provides us with an opportunity to not only celebrate and recognize African-American artists, but to question the notion of master narrative. We are encouraged to expand our understanding of American art and culture through the visual sampling, mastering, and remixing of our common visual language, while exploring the complexities and diversity that is the black community."

Witness: Art and Civil Rights in the Sixties (4/6/15) Blanton Museum of Art presented Witness: Art and Civil Rights in the Sixties, an exhibition of approximately 100 works by 66 artists that explores how painting, sculpture, drawing, printmaking, and photography not only responded to the political and social turmoil of the era, but also helped influence its direction. Organized by the Brooklyn Museum in New York, the exhibition highlights the wide-ranging aesthetic approaches used to address the struggle for civil rights. Organized thematically, the exhibition includes sections titled Integrate/Educate; American Nightmare; Presenting Evidence; Politicizing Pop; Black Is Beautiful; Sisterhood; Global Liberation; and Beloved Community. (left: thumbnail image: Barkley Hendricks, Lawdy Mama, 1969, Oil and gold leaf on canvas, 53 3/4 x 36 1/4 inches. Courtesy of the Brooklyn Museum)

Welcome to the World of Mr. Imagination; essay by Martha Henry (3/19/15) Welcome to the World of Mr. Imagination was on display in 2015 at Intuit: The Center for Intuitive and Outsider Art. Quoted from the essay: "Mr. Imagination was a messenger who preached that the power of art could transform lives and transcend adversity. He believed everyone could be an artist by simply using their imagination. He lived by example, creating a world where art and artist were inseparable. The many self-likenesses in his art were more than an exploration and deification of self but an affirmation of a spiritual belief that we are one. 'My art helps to recycle the past. It helps us to remember and imagine who we are and where we came from.'"

History Refused to Die-Alabama's African-American Self-Taught Artists in Context (3/13/15) In commemoration of the fiftieth-anniversary of the Selma-to-Montgomery March, the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts presented a collection of works by a group of Alabama's most important self-taught artists who were active in the latter part of the twentieth century. These artists -- Thornton Dial and the Dial Family, Lonnie Holley, Joe Minter, and others -- responded to the cultural and social environment of their times through their art. Using found objects as well as traditional art materials, they created works of great power that speak to the roles of Black people throughout their history in the state, from slavery to the Civil Rights Movement. Article includes wall panel texts and extended labels.

Common Ground: African American Art from the Flint Institute of Arts, the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts, & the Muskegon Museum of Art (3/9/15) Common Ground, on display at the Flint Institute of Arts in 2015, highlights some of the most important African American artists from the 19th century to present day through the collections of three Michigan museums. This exhibition surveys the history of African American art through 67 works of art in various mediums, including painting, sculpture, and works on paper.

A House We Should All Know Better; essay by Brett Busang (12/3/14) Busang's essay discusses the Washington neighborhood, home and artistic career of Lois Maillou Jones.

Sargent Claude Johnson: A Masterpiece Restored (2/28/14) Sargent Claude Johnson (1888-1967) was one of the first African American artists in California to achieve a national reputation. He worked as a painter, printmaker, and ceramicist, but is best known as a sculptor. Under the auspices of the Federal Arts Project (FAP), Johnson carved a 22-foot-long redwood relief of musicians, animals, birds, and plants as a screen for a pipe organ in the music hall of the California School for the Blind in Berkeley. The article contains several images. (left: thumbnail image: Sargent Claude Johnson, 1888-1967. Untitled (screen for pipe organ), 1937, Carved, painted, and gilded redwood. The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens. Purchased with funds from the Art Collectors' Council, the Connie Perkins Endowment, and the Virginia Steele Scott Acquisition Fund for American Art in honor of George Abdo and Roy Ritchie. 2011.5)



Ashe to Amen: African Americans and Biblical Imagery (5/25/13)

Robert S. Duncanson: The Spiritual Striving of the Freedmen's Sons, essay by Joseph D. Ketner II (5/19/11)

Print Portfolios: From the Paul R. Jones Collection at the University of Alabama (2/3/11)

Macy's Presents American Artists of Color (2/3/11)

The Chemistry of Color: Contemporary African-American Artists (3/9/10)



Deep Sea: Drawings by William O. Golding (12/10/09)

The Mural Tradition; essay by Edmund Barry Gaither (8/5/09)

Image and Identity: The Art of William E. Scott, John W. Hardrick, and Hale A. Woodruff; essay by Harriet G. Warkel (7/27/09)

Barkley L. Hendricks: Birth of the Cool, Paintings 1964-2007 (6/3/09)

The African American Image in Virginia (3/11/09)

A Force for Change: African American Art and the Julius Rosenwald Fund (3/5/09)

Harlem Renaissance (3/5/09)

Labor and Leisure: Works by African-American Artists from the Permanent Collection of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (3/5/09)

Confronting History: Contemporary Artists Envision the Past (2/11/09)

African American Images and Artists from the Swope Collection (2/5/09)



Whitfield Lovell: All Things in Time; essay by Bartholomew F. Bland (10/2/08)

Kara Walker: My Complement, My Enemy, My Oppressor, My Love (7/23/08)

Bare Witness: Photographs by Gordon Parks (5/27/08)

The Paintings of William Edouard Scott; text by Rachel Berenson Perry (5/16/08)

Jacob Lawrence: Three Series of Prints (2/7/08)

"The Highwaymen" and "Highwaymen Paintings" (2/6/08)

Aaron Douglas: African American Modernist (1/25/08)

Street Sense: Celebrating 20 Years of The Heidelberg Project (1/16/08)



I Am: Prints by Elizabeth Catlett (11/23/07)

Martin Puryear (11/6/07)

Kara Walker: My Complement, My Enemy, My Oppressor, My Love (11/6/07)

Aaron Douglas, African American Modernist (8/22/07)

African American Quilts from the Robert and Helen Cargo Collection (5/22/07)

William H. Johnson's World on Paper (2/18/07)

Works on Paper by African-American Artists (1/30/07)



Jacob Lawrence: Tales of Freedom (9/28/06)

Henry Ossawa Tanner and His Influence in America (8/11/06)

"The Founding of Chicago" by Aaron Douglas Acquired by Spencer Museum of Art (8/9/06)

'Visiting Mr. Dawson' A portrait of the artist-through the eyes of those who knew him well; article by John Cain (8/4/06)

Robert Scott Duncanson Painting, "The Quarry," Is Gift to Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (7/24/06)

Portraits of a People: Picturing African Americans in the Nineteenth Century (4/24/06)

A Symphony of Color: The Lyrical Paintings of Joseph Holston (3/28/06)

"Black Spirit": Works on Paper by Eldzier Cortor; essay by Matt Backer (3/22/06)

"Black Spirit": Works on Paper by Eldzier Cortor (3/20/06)

Betye Saar: Extending the Frozen Moment (2/7/06)

Successions: Prints by African American Artists from the Jean and Robert Steele Collection (2/3/06)

Honoring Heroes in History: Illustrations from the Coretta Scott King Book Awards, 2001-2005 (2/2/06)

Faith Ringgold (1/28/06)

Jacob Lawrence: Three Series of Prints - Genesis, Hiroshima, and Toussaint L'Ouverture (1/13/06)



Elizabeth Catlett: In the Image of the People; essay by Melanie Herzog (12/20/05)

Legends and Legacy Award: Elizabeth Catlett (12/20/05)

Picturing the Banjo (12/8/05)

Henry Ossawa Tanner and the Lure of Paris (11/21/05)

Syncopated Rhythms: 20th-Century African American Art from the George and Joyce Wein Collection (11/14/05)

Romare Bearden: Enchanter in Time (10/13/05)

Paul Keene: His Art and Legacy (10/13/05)

Audubon's Dream Realized: Selections from "The Birds of America" (9/6/05)

Betye Saar: Extending the Frozen Moment (8/24/05)

Circle Dance: The Art of John T. Scott; essay by Richard J. Powell (5/16/05)

Jacob Lawrence: In Focus; article by Sean M. Ulmer (4/20/05)

Persistent Memories: African American Art From the University of Arizona Museum of Art Collection; article by Marcin Aleturowicz (2/28/05)

African American Art; essay by Richard Powell (2/18/05)

A Continent without Borders: Africa's Influence on African American Artists; essay by Nnamdi Elleh (2/3/05)



The Walter O. Evans Collection of African American Art (10/29/04)

Robert S. Duncanson: Small Paintings from Ohio Collections (7/16/04)

Jacob Lawrence: The Migration Series from the Phillips Collection, with article by Mark Cole (6/9/04)

African American Masters: Highlights from the Smithsonian American Art Museum (4/2/04)

African American Works on Paper from the Cochran Collection (3/15/04)

Testimony: Vernacular Art of the African-American South (3/15/04)

African-American Art from the MFAH Collection (2/12/04)

Three Series of Prints by Jacob Lawrence: Three Series of Prints - Genesis, Hiroshima, and Toussaint L'Ouverture (1/22/04)



African American Works on Paper from the Wes and Missy Cochran Collection (11/10/03)

African American Artists Celebrate Community (11/11/03)

The Walter O. Evans Collection of African American Art (10/20/03)

The Art of Romare Bearden (9/23/03, rev. 12/20/03)

Generations (6/26/03)

Legacy of Struggle and Triumph: Icons of An Inside View; essay by Floyd Coleman (5/29/03)

Alfreda's World; article by Martha R. Severens (5/27/03)

Romare Bearden: Narrations (5/20/03)



Romare Bearden: Narrations (12/12/02)

Mint Museum of Art Receives Six Romare Bearden Paintings (9/9/02)

Narratives of African American Art and Identity: The David C. Driskell Collection (7/5/02)

Looking Forward/Looking Black (2/20/02)



A Personal Reflection on The Barkley L. Hendricks Experience - As I See It, by Floyd R. Thomas, Jr. (6/8/01)

To Be Real, by Richard J. Powell (6/8/01)

The Amistad Research Center / Artist Biographies, essay and biographies by Mora J. Beauchamp-Byrd (8/29/01)

Treasures from the Amistad Collection (8/20/01)

The Barkley L. Hendricks Experience (3/17/01)

Walter O. Evans Collection of African American Art (2/19/01)

Over the Line: The Art and Life of Jacob Lawrence (2/8/01)



Jacob Lawrence: The Frederick Douglass and Harriet Tubman Series of 1938-40 (10/24/00)

Narratives of African American Art and Identity: The David C. Driskell Collection (1016/00)

Romare Bearden in Black-and-White: Photomontage Projections, 1964 (8/29/00)

The Great Migration: The Evolution of African American Art, 1790-1945 (5/19/00)

African-American Art: 20th Century Masterworks,VII (3/8/00)

African/American: Graphic Work by Contemporary Women Artists (3/6/00)

An Exuberant Bounty: Prints and Drawings by African Americans (3/1/00)

African American Self-Taught Art: High Museum of Art Collection (1/18/00)

The Walter O. Evans Collection of African American Art (1/4/00)

Jacob Lawrence and Expressions of Freedom (1/2/00)



Spirits of the Cloth: Contemporary Quilts by African American Artists (11/25/99)

Southern Gate: African American Paintings from the National Museum of American Art, Smithsonian Institution (10/29/99)

To Conserve a Legacy: American Art from Historically Black Colleges and Universities (9/3/99)

Black Image and Identity: African-American Art from the Permanent Collection (8/14/99)

Bearing Witness: Contemporary Works by African American Women Artists (6/8/99)

The Legend of John Brown by Jacob Lawrence (6/1/99)

Jacob Lawrence--Aesop's Fables (4/11/99)

Re/Righting History: Counternarratives in African-American Art (3/19/99)



Rhapsodies in Black: Art of the Harlem Renaissance (9/21/98)

Three Generations of African American Women Sculptors (1/6/98)


TFAO references:

A December 2013 search within the TFAO digital library retrieved 202 pages referencing the phrase "African American art" and 628 pages referencing the phrase "African American"


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