The Newark Museum

Newark, NJ



Narratives of African American Art and Identity: The David C. Driskell Collection


Making its last stop on a national tour and its only appearance in the greater New York metropolitan area, "Narratives of African American Art and Identity: The David C. Driskell Collection" comes to The Newark Museum from October 25, 2000, through February 25, 2001. The exhibition, organized and circulated by The Art Gallery at the University of Maryland, College Park, brings to life the transformation of African American identity through nineteenth- and twentieth-century African American art assembled from the private collection of distinguished scholar, artist, educator and curator David C. Driskell. Dr. Juanita M. Holland, Assistant Professor, Department of Art History and Archaeology, University of Maryland, curates the show. Project director at The Newark Museum is Joseph Jacobs, Curator of American Art. (left: Romare Bearden, Morning)

"Narratives of African American Art and Identity: The David C. Driskell Collection" features 100 selected works by over 60 artists, which together interpret the complex unfolding of racial identity as seen in African American art. (left: Elizabeth Catlett, Sharecropper; right: Ray DeCarva, Portrait of Paul Robeson)

"The Newark Museum is delighted to be a host venue for this exhibition, and to add its voice to those paying tribute to Dr. Driskell for his extraordinary contributions to African American art as a collector, historian and advocate," says Mary Sue Sweeney Price, Director. "We strive to serve our constituency by promoting and celebrating cultural diversity both in our own collection and through special exhibitions, and we are confident that this presentation will have significant meaning for our varied audiences."

Concurrent with this exhibition, The Newark Museum mounts selected works of African American Art From the Collection, on view September 6, 2000, through March 4, 2001. In addition, it collaborates with Aljira, A Center for Contemporary Art, in presenting the companion show Echoes: The Art of David C. Driskell, also organized by The Art Gallery at the University of Maryland, College Park. This may be seen October 25 through December 13, 2000, at the Robeson Art Gallery of Rutgers University, Newark. (left: Melvin Edwards, Sippi Eye)

Narratives of African American Art honors David C. Driskell - scholar, artist, educator and curator - for his outstanding contributions and immeasurable impact. In his various career capacities and especially as a mentor, Dr. Driskell's artistic passions have influenced many artists and profoundly shaped the world of African American art and the discipline of American art history. (right: William H. Johnson, Children Playing London Bridge)

"...[I]t is unlikely that anyone will exceed or match the enormity of his scholarly contributions within this millennium," says Leslie King-Hammond, Dean of the Maryland Institute College of Art about Dr. Driskell. (left: Lois Mailou Jones, Notre-Dame de Paris)

In 1997, Dr. Driskell was advisor to President Bill Clinton on the purchase of the first artwork by an African American artist to be added to the White House art collection. Since 1980, he has been curator of the William and Camille O. Cosby Collection, the largest private holding of African American art in the world. His book, The Other Side of Color: The African American Collection of Camille O. and William H. Cosby, Jr. offers in-depth commentary on these works.

Born in 1931 in Eatonton, Georgia, Dr. Driskell has been dedicated to the study of African American art since the early 1950s as an undergraduate student at Howard University in Washington, D.C.

His Two Centuries of Black American Art, published in 1976 for the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, is considered a leading survey in art historical scholarship. Dr. Driskell also has edited, authored or collaborated on numerous other publications, including African American Visual Aesthetics (Smithsonian Institution Press, 1995), which investigates notions of the postmodern as they pertain to African American art. In addition, he has curated more than 35 exhibitions on African American artists, including Aaron Douglas, Alma Thomas, Richard Hunt, Claude Clark and Keith Morrison, among others.

Dr. Driskell considers himself an artist first and foremost. His artwork, primarily painting and collage, has been described as colorist and reflects his own Southern heritage and racial identity. He has had solo shows at Midtown Payson Galleries in New York City and various other private and university galleries. His work is included in many public and private collections, including the Baltimore Museum of Art, Maryland; the Corcoran Gallery of Art,Washington, DC; and TaIladega College and the Birmingham Museum of Art, both in Alabama.

Dr. Driskell's parallel career as an educator, both in studio art and African American art history, has had a powerful influence on the development of young American artists and scholars, and on the growing field of African Diaspora art history. (left: Jacob Armstead Lawrence, The Travellers)

A professor of art at the University of Maryland since 1977, Dr. Driskell was named Distinguished University Professor of Art in 1995. His students include Stokely Carmichel, Walter Evans, Leslie King-Hammond, Keith Morrison, Jessie Norman and Mary Lovelace O'Neal. (right: Augusta Savage, Gamin)

As a collector, Dr. Driskell has built a large and diverse repository of African American, African, European and Asian art. Many of the works in his collection were acquired through personal relationships with the artists and their families. Additionally, he has amassed an archive of more than 50,000 letters, photographs, personal interviews and rare exhibition catalogues pertaining to African American art and artists.

The Newark Museum's presentation of "Narratives of African American Art and Identity: The David C. Driskell Collection" is supported in part by funding from the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation.

Read more about the Newark Museum in Resource Library Magazine

Please click on thumbnail images bordered by a red line to see enlargements.

For further biographical information on selected artists cited above please see America's Distinguished Artists, a national registry of historic artists.

This page was originally published in Resource Library Magazine. Please see Resource Library's Overview section for more information. rev. 4/6/11

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