Rutgers University / Paul Robeson Galleries

Newark, NJ



Echoes: The Art of David C. Driskell


"Echoes: The Art of David C. Driskell" presents an overview of Driskell's work ranging from his student days (1953) to his most recent achievements as an artist (1998). He is known for formulating a critical and historical discourse for artists of African descent in relation to their time. But all along he has remained a working painter as well. Echoes. The Art of David C. Driskell will be on display from October 25 through December 13, 2000 at the Paul Robeson Gallery, Rutgers University, Newark, NJ. (left: Spirits Watching, 1986, lithograph, 21.5 x 30 inches)

David Driskell's proficiency as a scholar, analyzing the formal structures and philosophy of historical and contemporary art, has clearly impacted the development of his personal work as a painter. It is an occupation he has always considered primary despite his roles as teacher, curator, and historian.

Driskell's paintings provide evidence of his deep knowledge of African art as well as the major modernist movements of the 20th century. They also show his abiding concern with issues integral to his particular socio-cultural experience. As a man of African heritage, Driskell continues to establish an effective space within a resistant American society. Enhanced by various technical and formal developments made over the years, his themes continue to be those which pertain to the diasporic family. A sense of the spiritual, a respect for beauty, the elusive figure, the complexity of nature all remain constants in his work. (left: Dancing Angel, 1974, collage, 50 x 29 inches)

In catalogue notes for a recent exhibition of Driskell's work at the Midtown Payson Galleries in Florida, Stephanie E. Pogue, a University of Maryland professor has written:

"The artist's immersion in nature exists on two planes: one joyful, the other utilizing aspects of nature in a symbolic manner as a metaphor for life and growth in a universal sense. Occasionally, this immersion in nature highlights the foil for man's sometimes political or destructive arrogance in his denial of the natural order."

These comments are particularly insightful of David Driskell and his work. He was born in Eatonton, Georgia in 1931. He received a bachelor's degree at Howard University and a masters of fine arts from The Catholic University of America, both located in Washington DC. His post-graduate studies included art history at the Netherlands Institute for the History of Art in The Hague, plus independent study elsewhere in Europe, Africa, and South America. He is the recipient of three Rockefeller Foundation Fellowships as well as fellowships from the Danforth and Hannon foundations. Other honors during his distinguished career include six honorary doctorate degrees. (left: Memories of a Distant Past, 1975, collage and gouache, 22 x 17 inches)

A brief listing of Driskell's solo exhibitions include those at the Bowdoin College Museum of Art, Maine; Sherry Washington Gallery, Detroit, Michigan; the Tennessee Fine Arts Center; and the Art Gallery at the University of Maryland.

Echoes: The Art of David C. Driskell is a presentation of Aljira, a Center For Contemporary Art, at the Paul Robeson Gallery, Rutgers University, Newark, New Jersey. This exhibition is a companion to Narratives of African American Art and Identity: The David C. Driskell Collection which will be shown concurrently at the Newark Museum. A joint reception will be held on October 28, 2000 from 6:00 to 11:00 pm for members and invited guests.

This exhibition and its related programs were made possible by a major grant from the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation. Funding for Aljira has been made possible in part through a grant by the New Jersey State Council on the Arts/Department of State; US Housing and Urban Development Community Development Block Grant (administered by the City of Newark); The Chase Manhattan Bank; Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation; The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts; Prudential Foundation; Johnson & Johnson; membership and individual contributions. (left: Woman with Flowers, 1972, oil and collage, 39 x 39 inches)

(information as of 10/00)

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