Term used to describe art made by Americans of African descent. While the crafts of African Americans in the 18th and 19th centuries continued largely to reflect African artistic traditions (see Africa, §VIII), the earliest fine art made by professional African American artists was in an academic Western style (see fig.).
Regenia A. Perry, Camara Dia Holloway, Christina Knight, Dele Jegede, Bridget R. Cooks, and Jenifer P. Borum
South African sculptor and multimedia artist, was born in Johannesburg, South Africa. Her father’s family emigrated from Germany (her paternal grandfather was Jewish). She studied at the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, graduating with a bachelor of fine arts degree and the Martienssen Student Prize in 1982 and completing her masters degree in 1988. She taught English and art at schools in Namibia and Cape Town before joining the Michaelis School of Fine Art, University of Cape Town, as a part-time lecturer in 1996. She holds a professorship in sculpture and is resident in Cape Town. An intensely private person, Alexander rarely gives interviews or explains her work verbally.
In 1986 Alexander gained attention with a solo exhibition in Johannesburg. It included Butcher Boys (1985–1986 a disquieting depiction of three white life size naturalistic figures seated on a bench These self absorbed beings possessing animal and ...
William Ellisworth Artis was born February 2, 1914, in Washington, North Carolina, to Elizabeth Davis and Thomas Migget. In 1926 he went to live with his mother and her husband, George Artis, in New York City. Artis's artistic education took him through a number of institutions, including the Art Student's League, Pennsylvania State University, Chadron State College in Nebraska, and Syracuse University. He also studied under Harlem Renaissance sculptor Augusta Savage. Artis won the Metropolitan Scholarship award for creative sculpture in 1933, and the Outstanding Educator of America and Outstanding Afro-American Artist awards in 1970. His sculptures are singular in their treatment of human life and their vitality of form. Later in his career Artis taught at Nebraska State Teacher's College and the Harlem Young Men's Christian Association (YMCA).
Nicholas J. Bridger
Yoruba wood sculptor, was born in 1910 in Osi-Ilorin, now in Kwara State, Nigeria. He was the son of Areogun of Osi-Ilorin (c. 1880–1954), a significant master woodcarver of the premodern tradition of the northeast area of Yorubaland. He acquired the name George when baptized Catholic as a child, although his father remained a practitioner of the local Yoruba religion. His name is referred to in recent sources as George Bamidele Arowoogun, the patronymic added as a surname. His close collaborator and patron for four decades, Father Kevin Carroll (1920–1993), always referred to him simply as “Bandele.”
Growing up in a successful carver s household Bandele became apprenticed in his teens to one of his father s former assistants Oshamuko also from Osi Ilorin one of a group of villages called collectively Opin which was within the Ekiti region Both his familial ancestry and his artistic lineage ...
Richmond Barthé grew up in Bay Saint Louis, Mississippi, and New Orleans, Louisiana. His father died at the age of twenty-two, one month after Barthé's birth. In early childhood, Barthé began drawing and painting watercolor scenes. His mother, Marie Clementine Roboteau, raised him alone, fostering his interest in the arts. He received further encouragement from his fellow townspeople and the nuns at his parochial school.
In 1915 Barthé moved to New Orleans, where he painted and worked as a butler. At the age of eighteen he won a local drawing contest. During the nine years that Barthé spent in New Orleans, he tried to enter art school, but his admission was denied because he was black. Critic Lyle Saxon of the Times-Picayune newspaper attempted to wield his influence to allow Barthé into a New Orleans art school, but his efforts failed.
Barthé eventually focused his interest on schools ...
sculptor, was born in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, the son of Richmond Barthé and Marie Clementine Roboteau, a seamstress. His father died when Barthé was one month old. Barthé began drawing as a child and first exhibited his work at the county fair in Mississippi at age twelve. He did not attend high school, but he learned about his African heritage from books borrowed from a local grocer and publications given to him by a wealthy white family that vacationed in Bay St. Louis. This family, which had connections to Africa through ambassadorships, hired Barthé as a butler when he was in his teens; he moved with them to New Orleans. At age eighteen Barthé won first prize for a drawing he sent to the Mississippi County Fair. Lyle Saxon, the literary critic for the New Orleans Times Picayune then attempted to register Barthé in a ...
artist. Barthé's stylistic sculptures of the African American captured the human passion and genuine character, culture, and ethnic identity of the race. His sensitivity in his work revealed a glimpse into the life and spirit of the African American during an era of oppression and persecution. Barthé's unique ability to expose the vulnerability of his subjects brought him wide recognition in the art world and the social circles of the early and mid-twentieth century.
Born in Bay Saint Louis, Mississippi, Barthé grew up on the coastal bay, an area populated by wealthy New Orleans families. His father, Richmond Barthé Sr., died at the age of twenty-two, when Barthé was only a few months old. Barthé's mother, Marie Clementine Robateau Barthé, left a single mother, raised him while working as a seamstress. When Barthé was six she married his godfather, William Franklin a workingman and a cornet ...
Born in rural Jamaica, Everald Brown moved to West Kingston in 1947 and became deeply interested in the religion of the Rastafarians. Having established a small unofficial church in 1960, he began making artworks for use in church ritual. These works are noted for their intuitive style and use of imagery from Rastafarian, Ethiopian Orthodox, Judaic, and Christian revivalist religious traditions. Brown claims that these images come to him through dreams and visions. Among his most acclaimed paintings is Ethiopian Apple (1970), which is in the collection of the National Gallery of Jamaica.
An accomplished sculptor as well as an intuitive painter, Brown has also gained fame for his carved musical instruments. From the early 1970s he lived in rural Jamaica, where he devoted himself to art that promoted spiritual and environmental concerns.
See also Art in Latin America and the Caribbean.
American sculptor, teacher, and writer. Burke initially trained as a nurse at the Women’s Medical College, NC, before studying philosophy at Columbia University, New York (1936–41). During the 1930s she became one of a few prominent black American sculptors (see African American art §I 2.) participating in the Works Progress Administration’s Federal Art Projects. She also became an instructor in sculpture at the Harlem Community Art Center and a frequent contributor to periodicals and newspapers, and she worked with Aristide Maillol in Paris and Hans Reiss (1885–1968) in New York. In 1940 she was awarded a Rosenwald Fellowship and in the period 1943–6 was director of the Student’s School of Sculpture, New York. Her sculpture is characterized by an idealistic intent in sensitively moulded stone carvings on humanistic themes, for example Lafayette and Salome exhibited at the McMillen Galleries New York ...
Tritobia Hayes Benjamin
One of the chores assigned to the Burke children every Saturday was to whitewash the fireplaces with a wash made of local clay. Selma Hortense Burke discovered right away that this clay could be molded into delightful shapes. Her varied career as a teacher, arts administrator, model, and nurse was one of distinction and achievement, but it is her work as a sculptor that is the most memorable. Working with a variety of woods, marbles, and stones, Burke infused her figures with expressiveness, heroism, and power. She focused on the human figure, from the earliest clay figurines she created as a young artist to a statue she completed in the late 1970s of Martin Luther King Jr.
a Nigerian sculptor, was born in Buguma, Nigeria, the principal settlement of the Kalabari people in the eastern Niger Delta region. She moved to England as a teenager, where she was raised by her brother-in-law, the anthropologist Robin Horton. From 1979 to 1980 she attended the California College of Arts and Crafts in Oakland. She then returned to England and enrolled at the Central School of Art and Design in London where she earned a bachelor’s degree (with honors) in 1983. While an undergraduate, she received the Amy Sadur Friedlander Prize (1981) and the Saatchi & Saatchi Award (1982). In 1983 Camp was awarded the Princess of Wales Memorial Scholarship and the coveted Henry Moore Bursary at the Royal College of Art in London. She graduated from the Royal College in 1986 with a master’s degree in sculpture.
Camp received additional education in Nigeria where ...
While a student at Howard University in Washington, D.C., in the 1930s, Elizabeth Catlett first encountered African sculptural art and the contemporary work of Mexican muralists. These two art traditions inform most of Catlett's oeuvre. Her sculpted figures have the same voluminous, rounded forms of the people portrayed in the murals of Mexican artists such as Diego Rivera. At the same time, the faces of Catlett's sculpted figures have an owl-like, lunar quality that seems to be derived from African mask design. This stylized facial quality can also be observed in some of Catlett's graphic work, especially in her lithographs. In her linocuts, on the other hand, the faces and bodies of figures are rendered in a more realistic manner; these linocuts are stylistically related to the work of printmakers at the Taller de Gráfica Popular in Mexico City, where Catlett studied from 1946 to 1947 She combined ...
Lisa E. Rivo
sculptor, printmaker, and teacher, was born Alice Elizabeth Catlett to Mary Carson, a truant officer, and John Catlett, a math teacher and amateur musician who died shortly before Elizabeth's birth. Elizabeth and her two older siblings were raised by their mother and paternal grandmother in a middle-class neighborhood of Washington, D.C. Encouraged by her mother and her teachers at Dunbar High School to pursue a career as an artist, she entered Howard University in 1931, where she studied with the African American artists James Lesesne Wells, Loïs Mailou Jones, and James A. Porter. After graduating cum laude with a BS in Art in 1935, Catlett taught art in the Durham, North Carolina, public schools before beginning graduate training at the University of Iowa in 1938 Under the tutelage of the artist Grant Wood Catlett switched her concentration from painting to sculpture and ...
Amy Helene Kirschke
sculptor and printmaker. Catlett was born six months after her father died of tuberculosis. The Washington, D.C., native was the daughter of two educators. Her father was a teacher at Tuskegee Institute and in the Washington, D.C., public schools, and her mother was trained at the Scotia Seminary in North Carolina as a teacher. Upon Elizabeth's father's death, her mother immediately sought a job, eventually working as a truant officer in the Washington, D.C., public school system. Catlett's mother always strongly emphasized education for her three children. The granddaughter of freed slaves, Catlett credited her resolve in sculpture to her family's commitment to education, noting that her profession has traditionally been reserved for white men.
Catlett identified with four underserved groups women blacks Mexicans and poor people She did not see herself as exceptional rather she saw herself as exceptionally fortunate A precocious student she skipped two grades and ...
As a visual artist and writer Barbara Dewayne Chase-Riboud (D'ashnash Tosi) blends African worlds with European, Asian, and Muslim worlds. Embracing differences is central to her idea of coupling or combining opposites. Chase-Riboud was born in Philadelphia to parents who encouraged her talents in the arts. With their support, her interest in the visual arts grew. She received a BFA from Temple University (1957). In the same year she was awarded a John Hay Whitney Fellowship to study art in Rome. Returning to the United States, Chase-Riboud completed an MFA at Yale (1960). From 1957 to 1977 Chase-Riboud exhibited widely in Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and the United States. Although she is not an expatriate, Chase-Riboud lives with her second husband, Sergio Tosi, in Paris and Rome.
Her world travels with her first husband photojournalist Marc Riboud during the 1960s inspired Chase Riboud s ...
Jennifer Jensen Wallach
sculptor, poet, and novelist. Barbara Chase-Riboud was born and raised in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and received a BFA from Temple University in 1957 and an MFA from Yale University in 1960. In 1957 she received a John Hay Whitney Foundation fellowship, which allowed her to study in Rome and Egypt. In 1961 she married the French photojournalist Marc Riboud and moved to Paris permanently.
Chase-Riboud's sculpture is characterized by bronze shapes combined with silk and wool fabrics, and it exhibits African and Asian influences. Her sculpture is housed among the permanent collections of the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris and the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Museum of Modern Art in New York City.
Chase-Riboud is a poet and a novelist as well as a sculptor. In 1974 she published her first volume of poetry, From Memphis to Peking, which was edited by Toni Morrison ...
Lisa Clayton Robinson
The daughter of Vivian and Charles Chase, Barbara Chase-Riboud was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She won her first art prize at age eight. At age fifteen she won a Seventeen magazine award, and her prizewinning print was purchased by the Museum of Modern Art in New York. She received a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Temple University in Philadelphia in 1957 and spent the next year in Italy and Egypt on a John Hay Whitney Foundation Fellowship. She received a Master of Fine Arts degree from Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut, in 1960.
In 1961 Chase Riboud married a French photojournalist and she traveled with him throughout Europe Asia and Africa Her drawings and sculpture began to include significant African and Asian influences She was also influenced by struggles for civil rights and freedom in the United States and Africa By the late 1960s ...
Born in Houston, Texas, Melvin Edwards studied painting at the University of Southern California (USC), and began sculpting in 1960. Five years later he received his B.F.A. degree from USC. Edwards first gained critical attention with a series of sculptures entitled Lynch Fragments, which he had begun in 1963. By 1997 the series included more than 150 individual works made from both forged and welded parts of knife sheaths, automotive gears, chains, ball bearings, horseshoes, and other metal. The works, each of which is about the size of a human head and hangs on a wall, explore themes of violence and incorporate both American and African symbolism.
In 1967 Edwards moved from California to New Jersey, and his work began to shift away from the manipulated, unpainted metal. A solo exhibition at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota, in 1968 included geometric shapes painted ...
Jennifer Anne Hart
Ghanaian painter and sculptor, was born in Anyako in the Volta region of what was then the Gold Coast and is now Ghana. He was the son of a weaver, and is a member of the Ewe ethnic group.
Anatsui began professional art training at the University of Science and Technology in Kumasi, Ghana (1965–1969). During this four-year training period, which emphasized Western art techniques, Anatsui specialized in sculpture with particular focus on life and figure studies. During the early years of his career and training, however, Anatsui was influenced by the work of Oku Ampofo, Vincent Akwete Kofi, and Kofi Antubam, who began to reject the foreign influences in their artistic training and pay increasing attention to indigenous art forms. This artistic movement was encapsulated in the Ghanaian concept of sankofa. Responding to colonial efforts to denigrate African culture, sankofa encouraged the careful selection and inclusion of ...
Elsie A. Okobi
Nigerian artist and sculptor, was born a twin on 14 July 1921 in Onitsha, Anambra State, Nigeria. He was born into the noble family of Umueze-Aroli in Onitsha, to Omenka Odigwe Emeka Enwonu, a technician and a sculptor who worked for the Royal Nigeria Company. His mother was Ilom, a successful cloth trader.
Enwonwu was educated at primary schools in Onitsha, Umuahia, and Port-Harcourt from 1926 to 1931, and received a secondary education at St. Patrick’s School, Ibusa, and Government College Ibadan. At Ibadan in 1934, he met Kenneth Murray, the education officer responsible for art education in the colonial civil service. He then left with Murray for Government College, Umuahia, where he studied for five years. Enwonwu’s work was introduced to the international art world in 1937 when Murray exhibited the work of his students at the Zwemmer Gallery in London As a result of that ...