Monday, January 12, 2009

Major Exhibition of Prints by David C. Driskell Opens at the High Spring 2009

“Evolution: Five Decades of Printmaking by David C. Driskell”
April 21 – August 2, 2009

The first exhibition to highlight the prints of renowned artist and scholar David C. Driskell will be on view at the High Museum of Art in 2009. “Evolution: Five Decades of Printmaking by David C. Driskell” will open on April 21, and will remain on view through August 2, 2009. Featuring 80 prints which provide insight into Driskell’s artistic process and development, the exhibition will be presented in conjunction with the fifth anniversary of the High’s David C. Driskell Prize for achievement in African American art and scholarship.

Organized by the David C. Driskell Center for the Study of the Visual Arts and Culture of African Americans and the African Diaspora at the University of Maryland, College Park, “Evolution” premiered at the Driskell Center and traveled to the Wichita Art Museum before its exhibition at the High. It will subsequently travel to the Portland Museum of Art, where it will be on view October 27, 2009, through January 17, 2010.

“Since the High’s relationship with David C. Driskell first began in 2000, we have been significantly impacted by his contribution to the field of African American art and art history both internationally and here in Atlanta,” said Michael E. Shapiro, Nancy and Holcombe T. Green, Jr. Director of the High. “The innovative work of Dr. Driskell is an inspirational force in the field of African American art. Through his remarkable prints, visitors this spring will be able to trace his development as an artist, as well as the evolution of African American art.”

Throughout his work, Driskell has drawn upon diverse sources while developing an artistic language of his own. “Evolution” will feature woodcuts such as the “Bakota Girt” series (1972-1974) and “Benin Woman” (1975), which reveal the influence of the artist’s travels to Africa and his desire to enrich his own connection to African culture. In “Bakota Girl 1,” Driskell draws inspiration from a Kota reliquary, while also referencing Byzantine Christian iconography through his use of gilt and jewel tones.

Over the course of his career, Driskell has explored the intersection between African sculpture, Modernist aesthetics, and the tradition of Western art. In his “Reclining Nude” (2000), Driskell references Matisse’s “Blue Nude” of 1906, reclaiming the African imagery which served as a key source of inspiration to 20th-century modernists.

Examples of Driskell’s self-portraits will also play an important role in the exhibition. Spanning more than thirty years, these works reflect the artist’s wide range of stylistic approaches, from the traditional pose and naturalistic representation of “Self Portrait” (1970), to “Pensive” (2004), in which Driskell transforms his own features into to those of an African mask.

Exhibition Organization, Support and Catalogue
“Evolution: Five Decades of Printmaking by David C. Driskell” is organized by the David C. Driskell Center for the Study of the Visual Arts and Culture of African Americans and the African Diaspora at the University of Maryland, College Park. It is curated by the Driskell Center’s Curator-in-Residence, Dr. Adrienne L. Childs. The exhibition includes works executed in a range of techniques, including woodcuts and linocuts, lithographs, collographs, etchings, a rare hand-colored lithograph and several hand-colored woodcuts and linocuts.

Accompanying the exhibition is a fully illustrated 120-page catalogue published by Pomegranate Communications. It includes a curatorial essay by Dr. Adrienne Childs; an essay by Ruth Fine, Curator of Special Projects in Modern Art, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; and an introduction by Deborah Willis, Professor of Art, Tisch School of Arts, New York University. The catalogue is among the very few that document the medium of printmaking by African American artists, and it is the most comprehensive exploration of Driskell’s work to date.

David C. Driskell
Born in 1931 in Eatonton, Georgia, Driskell is Distinguished Professor Emeritus at the University of Maryland, College Park. He received his Bachelor of Arts degree from Howard University in 1955 and his Master of Fine Arts degree from Catholic University in 1962. He also attended the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in Maine in 1953, and studied art history at The Hague, The Netherlands, in 1964. In 1976, Driskell curated the groundbreaking exhibition “Two Centuries of Black American Art: 1750–1950,” which laid the foundation for the field of African American art history. Since 1977, he has served as cultural advisor to Camille O. and William H. Cosby and as the curator of the Cosby Collection of Fine Arts. In a White House ceremony in 2000, Driskell received the National Humanities Medal from President Bill Clinton, and in 2007 he was elected as a National Academician by the National Academy.

David C. Driskell Center
The David C. Driskell Center for the Study of the Visual Arts and Culture of African Americans and the African Diaspora at the University of Maryland, College Park, celebrates the legacy of David C. Driskell by preserving the rich heritage of African American visual art and culture. Established in 2001, the Center provides an intellectual home for artists, museum professionals, art administrators and scholars of color, broadening the field of African diasporic studies. The Driskell Center is committed to preserve, document and present African American art as well as to replenish and expand the field of African American art. More information about the Driskell Center is available at

David C. Driskell Prize at the High Museum of Art
Established by the High in 2005, the David C. Driskell Prize is the first national award to honor and celebrate contributions to the field of African American art and art history. Past recipients include artist Xaviera Simmons (2008), scholar/curator Franklin Sirmans (2007), artist Willie Cole (2006) and scholar Dr. Kellie Jones (2005). A cash award of $25,000 accompanies the prize. Proceeds from the High Museum’s annual Driskell Prize Dinner go toward both the David C. Driskell African American Art Acquisitions Fund and the David C. Driskell African American Art Endowment. Through the David C. Driskell African American Art Acquisitions Fund, the High has acquired works by such artists as Radcliffe Bailey, Nick Cave, Willie Cole, John T. Scott and Renee Stout. The High will honor the 2009 prizewinner at the annual David C. Driskell Prize Award Dinner on April 20, 2009.

High Museum of Art
The High Museum of Art, founded in 1905 as the Atlanta Art Association, is the leading art museum in the southeastern United States. With more than 11,000 works of art in its permanent collection, the High Museum of Art has an extensive anthology of 19th- and 20th-century American and decorative art; significant holdings of European paintings; a growing collection of African American art; and burgeoning collections of modern and contemporary art, photography and African art. The High is also dedicated to supporting and collecting works by Southern artists and is distinguished as the only major museum in North America to have a curatorial department specifically devoted to the field of folk and self-taught art. The High’s media arts department produces acclaimed annual film series and festivals of foreign, independent and classic cinema. In November 2005 the High opened three new buildings by architect Renzo Piano that more than doubled the Museum’s size, creating a vibrant “village for the arts” at the Woodruff Arts Center in midtown Atlanta. For more information about the High, please visit

The Woodruff Arts Center
The Woodruff Arts Center is ranked among the top four arts centers in the nation. A not-for-profit center for performing and visual arts, its campus comprises the Alliance Theatre, the Atlanta College of Art, the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, the High Museum of Art, Young Audiences and the 14th Street Playhouse.
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