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Charles White

Born, 1918. Died, 1979

Charles White was one of the artists included in Great Negroes Past and Present, an iconic publication, by Russell L. Adams, first published in 1963. The book was a bold attempt to bring to a general readership something of the majestic history African Americans and others of African origin had played in the building of, and history of, the US. The brief biographical sketches were of outstanding Africans and Africans who made distinguished contributions to history, to science and industry, to fine arts, to education and religion, and to the performing arts. The biographical sketches were accompanied by illustrations by Eugene Winslow. Numerous personalities were represented in Great Negroes Past and Present, and section XII was dedicated to VISUAL ART, and introduced its readers to artists such as Robert Duncanson, Edward M. Bannister, Horace Pippin, Richard H. Hunt, and Jacob Lawrence. Included in this distinguished grouping of artists was Charles White, introduced as ‘Modern Painter’.

The one page outline included a text, the concluding paragraph of which was, “In spite of many tempting commercial offers, White remained true to “art for art’s sake.” He felt that an artist, particularly an artist who is also a Negro, had a social responsibility, and that the demands of art and society are not necessarily in conflict. He said, “I look to life and to my people as a fountainhead of challenging ideas and monumental concepts. I look to the bright new world coming; as I face a blank canvas, it is with such thoughts that I, an American Negro, turn to the business at hand - Art.””

Charles White’s lithograph of Frederick Douglass, 1951, was reproduced in the International Review of African American Art, Volume 8 Number 2, as part of the article A Legacy of La Amistad | Some Twentieth Century Black Leaders, written by Clifton H. Johnson.

Charles White’s Wanted Poster Series #17, 1971 was reproduced in Keith Piper’s Relocating the Remains catalogue, the main text of which was written by Kobena Mercer. The chapter in which White’s work appears is ‘Art’s Histories and Culture’s Geographies: 1979 - 1985’.

Within the Black Romantic catalogue’s text is All Good: Interview with Alonzo Adams, by LeRonn Brooks, illustrated with one of Adams’ paintings. In the interview, Adams states “Well, everyone knows I love Charles White, I’m a big Charles White fan. I’m a big [Henry Ossawa] Tanner fan and I’m a big fan of Thomas Eakins, his teacher. I was a big fan of Rembrandt. There was also a French artist named Jean Millet, I love his work. believe it or not, I like a lot of contemporary Asian artists, too. I love their work, the ones who work in the traditional realistic and impressionistic styles…”

Related items + view all 10

click to show details of Back to Black - brochure

»  Back to Black - brochure

Brochure relating to an exhibition, 2005

click to show details of Back to Black - catalogue

»  Back to Black - catalogue

Catalogue relating to an exhibition, 2005

click to show details of Back to Black: art, cinema and the racial imaginary

»  Back to Black: art, cinema and the racial imaginary

Review relating to an exhibition, 2005

click to show details of Black Art and Culture in the 20th Century

»  Black Art and Culture in the 20th Century

Book relating to a publication, 1997

click to show details of Relocating the Remains

»  Relocating the Remains

Catalogue relating to an exhibition, 1997

Related exhibitions

Related venues

»  The New Art Gallery Walsall

Walsall, United Kingdom

»  Whitechapel Art Gallery

London, United Kingdom

»  Whitney Museum of American Art

New York, United States of America